THE Customs (Amendment of Schedules) Bill, intended to replace all the Schedules to the Customs Act, Chapter 82:01, was read for the first time in the National Assembly on Friday, as Guyana moves to be compliant with international obligations.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma, presented the bill on behalf of Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, who was absent from Friday’s sitting. The updated Schedules will reflect the current Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System referred to as the Harmonised System or HS.
“This bill will introduce the 2017 version which will ensure that Guyana is compliant with international trade obligations and will ensure consistent laws to facilitate trade and protect Guyana’s revenues,” the explanatory memorandum stated.
HS is a multipurpose six-digit international commodity classification system used by governments, international organisations, and the private sector, as a basis for customs tariffs, international trade statistics, freight rates and production statistics. It is applied worldwide by over 180 countries which, together, roughly represent 98 per cent of goods in international trade.
“The six General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonised System are, in fact, the most important legal text and constitute the backbone of this commodity classification. Whether users realise it or not, all commodities are classified according to these rules which ensure that a product is classified in only one heading or sub-heading to the exclusions of any other with justifiable legal interpretation. Rules one to five applies to classification in Headings, while Rule six applies to classification in the Subheadings,” a section of the bill explained.
It was also noted that the rules give the framework used to determine the classification of goods presented to a customs administration.
The Customs and Trade Single Window System Bill 2019 was also read for the first time in the National Assembly on Friday. The bill will establish the Customs and Trade Single Window System – a single decision-making facility for customs inspection, clearance, and release of cargo, enabled electronically. It would allow for a single submission of data and information, and a single and synchronous processing of data and information.
“The Single Window System shall serve as a single entry point for parties involved in trade and transport to lodge documents electronically, for processing and approval; and make payments electronically for fees, levies, duties and taxes due to the government, on goods which are imported or exported,” a section of the bill explains.
Clause Four of the bill provides for the technical aspects of the Single Window System while Clauses Five and Six, provide for its security, and the registration of uses of the system respectively. When enacted, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) will be responsible for the management and implementation of the Single Window System. It will also pave way for the establishment of a unit which will fall under GRA and an oversight committee.