ASYCUDA
  Evaluation of the ASYCUDA++ Project in Jordan

BACKGROUND

jordan4.jpg (8194 bytes)A mandatory evaluation of JOR/96/004 "Computerization of Customs Procedures and Data for Improved Revenue Collection" took place between August 1 and August 13, 1999. The Evaluation Team was composed of two international consultants from UNDP and UNCTAD respectively, and a national consultant from the Government of Jordan. All three consultants were first briefed at the UNDP/Jordan Country Office, and subsequently by the Project Director.

Phase I of the project started September 1997 as a pilot project to computerize three project sites, namely Customs Headquarters in Amman, Queen Alia International Airport and Amman Customs House. At the time of the evaluation ASYCUDA ++ was operational at the Customs Headquarters and at the airport. According to plans, Amman Customs will follow in September 1999. All Customs declarations are lodged electronically by brokers using Direct Trader Input.

The development objective of the Project is to improve the economy of the country by strengthening the capacity of the Government to generate customs revenue through the provision of an efficient service to the trading community.

The Project Document contains (5) immediate objectives, which are:

  1. to secure the collection of customs revenue and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customs operations through ASYCUDA++;
  2. to strengthen the Government’s capacity in the formulation and implementation of effective economic and fiscal policy through provision of accurate and timely data;
  3. to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Customs Department;
  4. to enhance the Department’ capabilities in disseminating trade related information to relevant users; and
  5. to provide standardized data extraction from ASYCUDA++ to serve as management information on international trade. 

SOME FINDINGS OF THE EVALUATION TEAM

  • During the implementation of the Project, a number of measures were taken to simplify procedures, documents and data prior to their automation under the ASYCUDA system. Examples include the integrated Customs tariff, the Single Administrative Document (SAD) and the adoption of risk management techniques. Contact between the brokers and the operational Customs staff has been minimized.
  • Success Indicators: There are several indicators that the Project was successful, and the expected impacts attained. These can be summarized as follows:
  • Time of release:the green lane declaration takes on average 2 hours.
  • Revenue collection: the revenue has stayed constant despite significant reductions in duty rates.
  • Trade statistics:trade statistics are more complete, accurate, and up-to- date.
  • Simplification and increased transparency:
  • Integrated Customs Tariff
  • Single Administrative Document
  • Risk Management Techniques
  • Direct Trade Input
  • Separation of brokers from Customs offices
  • Consolidation of preferential taxes
  • Capacity building:Training and transfer of technology and know-how was achieved.

LESSONS LEARNED

First and foremost, high-level policy support and commitment is necessary for this kind of project, where an entirely new system is implemented. This was evidenced by the decision taken by the Customs Department to place its most senior and highest-quality personnel in the ASYCUDA++ Project Management and operational posts;

Secondly, it is essential that other Government Ministries involved in international trade make every effort to reduce the burdens they place upon the business community. This will allow the economy of the country to gain maximum benefit from the simplified Customs clearance procedures, which have been introduced as part of the ASYCUDA++ project;

Thirdly, in a project of this complexity, thorough testing must precede the live implementation of the ASYCUDA++ system;

Fourthly, the timing of training and procurement activities must be properly planned in order that the host country gains the maximum benefit;

Fifthly, in the design of projects intended to bring about fundamental changes in the way organizations conduct their business, no effort should be spared to understand both the intended and unintended consequences of these changes and to prepare those who will be affected by the changes to cope with them more successfully.