A nine-month timeline has been set for the completion of reforms to the Customs and Excise Department.
Revenue commissioner at the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) Margaret Sivers, who made the announcement this morning, said meetings would be held with business leaders to secure their input ahead of the changeover.
The changes would specifically focus on structures and processes of the department, Shivers said at this morning’s official launch of the Automated Systems Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“The upgrade to ASYCUDA World is but one part of the overall reform process. We recognise that changing computer systems do not necessarily bring reforms to any organisation. We have to look at all the aspects,” the revenue commissioner noted.
Barbados is the 12th Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to implement the system which takes full effect on February 1, 2015.
Noting the country’s low ranking as it relates to ease of doing business, including by the World Bank, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said the country needs to streamline and simplify its trade processes.
He said ASYCUDA World will do just that.
“All importers, exporters or their agents will be able to submit their single administrative document, along with the supporting documentation, for the processing of imported or exported goods from the comfort of their homes or businesses as long as they have an internet connection,” the minister noted, while urging full compliance.
Some of the benefits touted by Minister Sinckler include a reduction in cost and time to do business, better governance, and the promotion of e-commerce and e-Government as well as the creation of a paperless environment.
According to Sinckler, the system will eventually be part of an integrated network called an Electronic Single Window (ESW) that will provide the platform for a paperless exchange of information among those involved in trade.
The ESW is expected to take full effect in June 2016.
Meantime, speaking on behalf of the United Nations resident coordinator, UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area Khin-Sandi Lwin described the implementation of ASYCUDA as a step towards good governance and an initiative that would lower the cost of shipping.
“This, in itself, is a potential spur to reviving the economy,” she said. “This opens the door for increased dialogue with donors who are eager to find concrete data, previously collected but unprocessed for the purposes of knowledge management.”
Joel Branski, a representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, also said this is a very important move in light of the inability of some countries to reap the full benefits of international trade and to be competitive.