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10.18 Customs commenced a program of consultation with industry and government agencies to identify their future cargo management business needs in March 1996. Initially this was known as the Cargo Management Strategy. In November 1997, following the outsourcing of Customs information technology, it was determined that a comprehensive re-engineering of cargo management processes was necessary.
10.20 In addition, it was clear that without significantly changing the current cargo management systems, Customs would not be in a position to meet its future obligations to government, nor meet industry expectations.
10.21 Four main elements for the management of cargo were identified during the initial consultation period:
10.22 In March 2000, Customs released the Cargo Management Re-engineering (CMR) Business Model. The business process proposals outlined in this document represent one of the major outputs of the investigation phase of the project. They have been designed to allow for maximum flexibility through tailored arrangements. Legislation and procedures will provide minimum base standard procedures, and individually agreed variations, based on the level of risk presented by the entities concerned.
10.23 Agreements with industry which vary the minimum standard procedures will be developed individually in conjunction with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), the ABS and relevant Permit Issuing Authorities (PIAs). Legislation to give effect to the changes was introduced to Parliament in December 2000. At the time of writing, specifications for the CMR systems have reached an advanced stage, with implementation of the new systems and procedures expected to occur progressively from late 2001.
10.24 The ABS has been closely involved in the CMR project from its inception. It has participated in various groups, forums and workshops established to guide and assist the development, and has provided extensive input to Customs on these and related matters. The objective of the ABS has been to ensure that key trade statistical requirements continue to be met from the new systems, and that, wherever possible, the quality of data reported is maintained or improved.
10.25 With one exception, which is described below, the CMR project is unlikely to have a major impact on ABS international merchandise trade statistics. Key data items and classifications used for statistical purposes are expected to be largely the same as for the current system and there should be limited disruption when the changeover occurs.
10.26 Development of what is now known as the Accredited Client Program commenced in advance of the CMR project, but is now closely linked to it. The Accredited Client Program provides much of the flexibility sought under CMR, and CMR systems will provide the functionality required for its operation. The Accredited Client Program is still being developed and is yet to be approved by Parliament. However, extensive consultation has occurred between the government agencies involved, and with industry, through a business partner group.
10.27 Some traders import and / or export more regularly than others, some are better at providing information and making revenue payments, and some can be assessed as posing a lesser risk to the Australian community. The Accredited Client Program is designed for exporters and / or importers who can demonstrate they satisfy these criteria.
10.28 Under the Accredited Client Program eligible exporters and importers will be able to report to Customs on a periodic rather than a transactional basis. Minimal information will be provided at the time of export or import, with other information provided in a periodic declaration. This will be a monthly statement lodged with Customs on the first day of the following month. Several different options are currently being considered for reporting on the periodic declaration.
10.29 To be eligible to become an accredited client, an applicant will need to:
10.30 To ensure that data reported by accredited clients continues to satisfy the minimum requirements for international merchandise trade statistics, the ABS has been closely involved in the development of the options, data items and business rules for periodic declarations.
10.31 Introduction of periodic declarations will pose a number of significant risks to trade statistics, which will need to be carefully managed by both Customs and the ABS. Accredited clients will provide data later than they do now, some data will be aggregated, and the provision of some data may be dependent on Customs satisfactorily linking multiple reports.
10.32 As accredited clients are likely to be large businesses, the consequences of the delayed receipt of data, and any undetected errors caused by the reduced time available and aggregation, are quite significant. The ABS is considering a number of methods for dealing with the additional risks to its international merchandise trade statistics caused by the expected introduction of periodic declarations.