09 September 2007

Customs officers still doing many tasks manually

The Star

PETALING JAYA: While the country has been told to ride the information technology wave, Customs Department officers are still doing many tasks manually.

According to the Auditor-General’s (AG) report, the RM290.12mil spent to set up the department’s Customs Information System (CIS) from 1998 to 2004 has not been used efficiently as the software is deemed not user-friendly.

The report added that the National Audit Department had been informed that the department was in the process of developing a new system – the Strategic Information Technology Plan – to replace the CIS.

“Deloitte Consulting Malaysia has been appointed the consultant to develop this system, at an estimated cost of RM451.3mil, between this year and 2011.”

The AG, however, was of the opinion that the department should not develop a new system and should instead study and ensure that CIS applications could be optimised.

“This is to avoid negative perception by the public that the money spent in developing the application was in vain and was wasted.”

Currently, the report said, many tasks, such as issuing tax arrears notices that could be automated using modules in the computer software, were still being done manually.

Among the reasons why the software was not widely used was that the software was not user-friendly and there was no clear directive from top management to use the software.

“The software was developed in the DOS environment which only allows the use of one window at a time, unlike the current Windows operating systems that allows multiple windows to be opened at one time.”

DOS was an operating system that was popular in the early-eighties up to about the mid-nineties.

The audit was carried out at the Customs Department headquarters, branches in Johor, Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Sabah and 38 Customs stations between November last year and January this year.

One example of software not being used was the Bill of Demand module that would allow the department to monitor companies that failed to settle their tax, and issue tax claims to them.

The other example was the Instalment Payment module that can list and monitor companies that were given permission to pay taxes in instalments.

None of the six states visited utilise the Bill of Demand module to issue tax claims while the Instalment Payment module is used in only three of the six states.

The report said that with the department having RM340.27mil in tax arrears, it had to make sure the modules were fully utilised to make it easier to trace those who paid late as well as keep track of what was owed.

The Customs Department is the country’s second largest earner, pulling in RM111.26bil between 2002 and last year.

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