Burundi launches a $2.5 million electronic system to enhance paperless cross-border trade

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Photo 5-BurundiBurundi Revenue Authority (OBR) has launched a paperless electronic system that will simplify submission and processing of trade information for export and imports reducing time to import to Burundi from Dar Es Salaam by at least 15%.

The system, known as Electronic Single Window (ESW) will allow submission and processing of import, export and transit related trade documents electronically thus reducing time taken to processes and increasing efficiency. TradeMark East Africa funded OBR to implement ESW with US$2.5 million grant.

The system will enable traders to submit information and administrative requirements for imports and exports, once, at a single entry point on the internet. The trade files can be attached in a range of formats including text files, images and tables. Once submitted, a clearing agent will no longer need to physically take documents from one government agency to another for processing but simply fill in necessary information on the web page.

In his key note speech, H.E the 2nd Vice President of the Republic of Burundi Dr. Rufyikiri said,“The Government welcomes the establishment of the steering committee today from diverse sectors of the life of our country and having as main tasks below: Educate stakeholders in e-stop shop; Ensure that the national strategy of the Single Window Electronics is well developed, formulated and then proceed to its validation; Coordinate and evaluate the implementation of the Single Window Electronics; Promote the adaptation of laws, regulations and procedures for the proper functioning of the Single Window Electronics; Promote the single window Electronics with high authorities of the country and analyze the reports of the National Team of Electronic Single Window and make recommendations.”

Highlighting the support from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) on the electronic Single Window project, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Country Director, Mrs. Anthe Vrijlandt said, “this tool will not only reduce the number of procedures for import and export but will also assist in the fight against corruption and fight”.

The OBR commissioner General, Dr. Domitien Ndihokubwayo was emphatic of OBR’s commitment to ensuring adoption of the system saying,

“The Electronic Single Window is therefore timely and will end the physical back and forth taxpayers’ movements between different institutions and stakeholders in trade”.

The use of electronic documents will allow trade operators and border officials to better optimise physical and human resources while ensuring the safety of trade procedures.  OBR on the other hand will eliminate opportunities for corruption at the borders thus increasing duties and tax collection. The ESW has been designed to work in harmony with current and future customs systems, which means that it will be able to grow and be upgraded as necessary without facing any constraints from the digital documents module.

Some of other expected benefits from using the Single Window include: OBR increasing duties and tax collection, reduction of time to process import and export documentation from 7 days to 1 day by end of one year, an easy way of paying taxes and duties, and traders reducing time to lodge import and export documentation by at least 2 hours. In addition to reducing time, it is expected that this paperless system will lead to reducing cost of doing business in Burundi, which will consequently lead to reduction of final price tag on consumer products.

The Electronic Single Window project will also involve the Burundi revenue authority, Burundi bureau of standards, the Ministry of Health and Fight against AIDS and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

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