Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (144)

Niall Collins

Question:

144. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter relating to Brexit customs issues (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2465/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Since January 1, following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK has been outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union and this means that a range of new formalities apply to goods moving to, from or through the United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland.

I am aware that Revenue fully appreciates that the new regulatory requirements and customs formalities present significant challenges and impose additional burdens on businesses. These requirements can be complex, but it is essential that Ireland fulfils its obligations as a member of the EU and that we protect public health, food safety and product standards as well as the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

The Government has provided a range of supports to assist businesses in adapting to the new rules and procedures that are now in place, including the Ready for Customs Grant scheme and the Clear Customs training programme. Officials and State Agencies have also been providing support and assistance on a 24/7 basis when practical difficulties with the new rules and procedures arise.

I appreciate that some businesses have found that it has taken longer to move goods through our ports, but it is important to note that a significant number of businesses have successfully made the transition to the new trading environment. These businesses are successfully submitting Customs declarations and receiving the associated Master Reference Numbers (MRNs) and are using these MRNs to create and populate the Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN). In recent days, more than 70% of goods being imported through Dublin Port, for example, are being green routed on arrival meaning they can leave the port without the need for additional interaction with Customs or other State agencies.

As regards the performance of Revenue’s Customs IT systems, I am advised by Revenue that in most cases, further investigation of specific issues raised with them has revealed that the actual error has been as a result of incorrect data rather than a systems issue. However, there have also been some systems issues and, in such cases, Revenue issued clear and timely communications that enabled affected businesses to continue to move their goods. These notifications are available on the Revenue website but are also automatically issued to businesses that have signed up to receive Revenue eCustoms Notifications. I am assured by Revenue that it was not a systems issue that led to the introduction of a temporary easement measure provided to trade and business in regard to the import safety and security declaration (ENS) declaration. PBNs are being successfully filed on a daily basis by trade and business.

I am satisfied based on the examination of the issues undertaken by Revenue and the assurance provided to me by Revenue that the customs IT systems are functioning well and are robust and resilient. I do, of course, fully appreciate the difficulties that arise for business when even short-term issues impact on business and the efficiency with which they can move goods. I fully support the Revenue approach of working with individual businesses and with the relevant trade representative bodies to assist them in building the understanding and knowledge of customs formalities and ensuring compliance with same so that goods movements between Ireland and Great Britain can be as efficient as possible, mindful of the fact that the trading environment changed irrevocably following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 132.