Bond proceeds finance upgrades to Immigration, Customs data systems

Allowing for networking capabilities to central data bases for both
fili@samoanews.com

Upgrading the Immigration data system as well as the upgrade and implementation of Customs Data and Tracking system projects are each getting $250,000 in proceeds from the American Samoa Economic Development Authority (ASEDA) issued bonds, according to the ASEDA report, which was publicly released Oct. 1.

IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

According to the ASEDA report, the Immigration system currently does not inter-phase and funding for the upgrade will incorporate three separate systems being used for immigration processing into one comprehensive database management system.

Additionally, the upgrade will connect all immigration locations — such as the Tafuna airport, the main Immigration Office at the AP Lutali Executive Office in Utulei, and the inter island wharf in Fagatogo.

The reports says the funding will also:

•     Upgrade the Certificate of Identity (CI) application and certification process. (CIs are issued by the Attorney General’s Office)

•     Implement online processing of visitors permits to be accessed via the American Samoa Government website (www.americansamoa.gov which also shows a link on how to order American Samoa birth certificates and other immigration issues)

•     Improve networking capabilities — allowing remote locations to be connected to the central database.

Based on information sourced from the Legal Affairs Department, Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele, who is a member of the ASEDA board, said these improvements to the Immigration system will “allow for better tracking of visitors and over-stayers.”

“They will allow our Immigration personnel to focus more on enforcement at the back end, ensuring that visitors leave at the end of their visit, and move away from creating roadblocks at the entry phase,” Lafaele told Samoa News.

“With improvements to the Immigration System, we will be offering [soon] the ability to apply and purchase entry permits on-line,” he said. Additionally, “We are finalizing revisions to our entry permit waiver program, which allows citizens of certain countries to enter American Samoa without a permit. It is our intention to have this service available online as well.”

CUSTOMS SYSTEM

The ASEDA report says the Customs database system will support the implementation of the Automated Systems for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).

According to the United Nations website, ASYCUDA is a computerized Customs management system which covers most foreign trade procedures. The system handles manifests and customs declarations, accounting procedures, and transit and suspense procedures.

A computerized customs management system, which will sustain foreign trade procedures and is used by many countries in the region, including Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu, according to the ASEDA report, which also states the system will provide a centralized database system for all Customs locations to include the main office at the wharf and the airport.

Additionally, the new system will provide Customs processes and an efficient procedure to report statistical data. And this will support the requirements by the Department of Commerce with commerce and trade data within American Samoa, it says.

The new system will ultimately provide support to American Samoa’s federal requirements of tracking Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report requirements and US Government Accountability Office reporting requirements.

The Customs data system upgrade is separate from the $6 million allocated in bond revenues for the purchase of scanner equipment, under the Rapi Scan project, for the territory’s port of entries.

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