IMO launches Maritime Single Window pilot project

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has issued a call for expressions of interest from countries with a medium-sized port to take part in a pilot project to establish an efficient digitalised system for electronic exchange of information in ports for ship clearance.

In a statement, the IMO said the ‘Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project’ will develop a system in a pilot port to allow electronic submission, through one single portal, of all information required by various government agencies when a ship calls at a port.

The SWiFT project will be implemented by IMO in partnership with Singapore, the body said.

Regulations in IMO’s Facilitation Convention require electronic exchange of data, to ensure the efficient clearance of ships and the single window concept is recommended, to avoid duplication of effort.

Individual data elements should only be submitted once, electronically through a single point of entry, to the relevant regulatory agencies and other parties.

According to the IMO, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the value of digitalisation and electronic exchange of required data is speedier, more reliable, efficient and COVID-secure than manual processes.

Under the pilot project, the selected country will be advised on the necessary legal, policy and institutional requirements for the MSW system. The port will then be provided with functional MSW software, hardware and/or IT services, configured to the country’s needs.

The pilot will be supported by Singapore via in-kind contributions and by IMO via the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).

Kitack Lim, IMO’s Secretary-General, said, “Increased digitalisation supports greater efficiency which benefits the ship, the port and wider supply chain.

“We want to support countries in implementing the FAL Convention requirements for electronic data exchange, by supporting a pilot project which will show the way and result in know-how which can then be shared with others.”

Following the initial pilot and subject to funding availability, the aim is to replicate the pilot project in other IMO Member States in need of similar technical assistance, the IMO claimed.

Julian Abril, Head of IMO’s Facilitation Section, “Following implementation in the pilot port, the IMO-Singapore project endeavours to springboard countries in their digitalisation journey and unlock the full potential of their maritime sectors.

“It is only when most, if not all, ports undergo digital transformation, that the full benefits of digitalization can be realized by the maritime community.

“With support from IMO’s Department of Partnership and Projects, we envisage an increasing number of discussions with external partners and resource mobilization efforts to support an ambitious scaling-up plan for this pilot initiative.”

Source: Port Technology Team, 22 March 2021

Global Tax Forum elects SARS Chief Legal Officer as Chair

Kosie Louw, SARS (2nd from right) newly elected Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

SARS’s Chief Officer for Legal and Policy, Kosie Louw, was elected Chair of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes at the organisation’s 5th meeting which was held in Cape Town last week. The appointment is for an initial two-year period from the beginning of 2013. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan congratulated SARS and Kosie Louw on his election as chairperson of the Global Forum on behalf of the South African government.

“I am certain that the two years of South Africa’s chairmanship will be beneficial for the forum but also to the wider global tax administration community. South Africa, the first African chair of the forum, takes over the post of the forum chair from Australia,” Minister Gordhan said.

The position of forum chair is especially important because the forum’s current mandate expires in 2015, and it is during SA’s tenure that a decision must be made on the best way to take the work of the forum forward. SA’s tenure also coincides with very challenging times for tax administrations globally, especially when it comes to the exchange of information for tax purposes, the Minister said. The two-day Global Forum event, held on 26 and 27 October, was hosted by SARS and was attended by delegates from 81 jurisdictions and 11 international organisations.

The Global Forum was created by the OECD in 2000 to provide a forum for achieving and implementing high standards of transparency and exchange of information in a way that is equitable and permits fair competition between all jurisdictions, large and small, OECD and non-OECD. The principle that guides the Global Forum’s work is that all jurisdictions, regardless of their tax systems, should meet such standards in order for competition to take place on the basis of legitimate commercial considerations rather than on the basis of lack of transparency or lack of effective exchange of information for tax purposes.

The Cape Town meeting comes at an important juncture in the work of the Global Forum as it starts evaluating whether its members are actually exchanging information effectively. It is developing a ratings system based on a global consideration of members’ effectiveness at implementing the standard in practice.

The organisation is also looking at ways of refining governance and deliberating on its future direction. The importance of the work of the Global Forum in the region is highlighted by the increasing membership of African countries to 15, with Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Tunisia and Uganda becoming the most recent members. This brings the Forum’s membership to 116.

South Africa has the largest and ever increasing tax treaty network in Africa and is seen as one of the most active jurisdictions in the work towards transparency and exchange of information. The South African Peer review report, which found South Africa’s legal framework and practices to be in accordance with the internationally agreed standard, was adopted by the Global Forum during this meeting. Source: SARSNews

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