Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (61)

Brendan Smith

Question:

61. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 21 January 2021, if urgent consideration will be given to concerns expressed by companies trading through Dublin Port (details supplied); if the necessary measures will be implemented to eliminate such delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7472/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Since 1 January 2021 the UK has been outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union and this means that a range of customs formalities and other regulatory controls apply to goods moving to, from or through the United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland. There is no alternative to the implementation of these formalities and controls because they are an essential part of maintaining the integrity of the Single Market and the Customs Union, a vital consideration in the ability and entitlement of goods coming from Ireland to move freely within the European Union.

In preparation for the changes brought about by the UK’s departure from the EU, I am advised that Revenue carried out significant work to increase their IT systems’ capacity to cater for the increased level of trade with what is now a 3rd country and the consequent significantly increased volume of declarations.

Since 1 January 2021, I am advised that Revenue has been monitoring activity levels within their systems. They identified degradation in performance during times of peak processing resulting in delayed responses to declarations and other messages lodged by trade. One of the contributing factors for this is the growth in the business levels of large filers with lots of small consignments, a business model that has increased significantly with the move to online shopping since the start of the pandemic.

I know that Revenue acknowledges that a delay in processing creates difficulties for trade and business and that Revenue has apologised for the difficulties which have been caused for trade and business. I am advised that Revenue is working with its software provider to increase capacity at peak processing times. At the same time Revenue is working with large filers, to develop tailored solutions that will facilitate their business model and ensure that other goods traffic is not adversely impacted by peak load processing delays. I am informed by Revenue that this approach is working well and that processing delays at peak times have been reduced and that Revenue is continuing to focus on further improvements in the performance of its import system.

I understand from Revenue that businesses can pre-lodge their customs declarations up to 30 days in advance. This facilitates those who are in possession of all necessary information to file their declarations well in advance of the arrival of their goods ensuring they will be unaffected by peak load processing. I would encourage businesses that are in a position to do so, to file their customs declarations as early as possible. This will minimise any potential for processing delays.

I am advised that Revenue continues to actively monitor their system’s performance and to take appropriate action so that businesses can continue to move goods. Revenue staff are working in the ports on a 24/7 basis to assist businesses and Revenue also operates a Customs 24/7 Helpline on 01 7383685.