Amending the 1962 Customs Act to improve the flow of goods entering and exiting Barbados forms part of Government’s plan to restructure and diversify the economy, Government Senator Jepter Ince said yesterday.
Contributing to debate on the measure in the Upper Chamber, Ince said: “If you are going to diversify and restructure the economy, it is not only about the resources within the economy; whether they are capital or human resources. It also speaks to legislation and amending those critical areas of legislation that are going to enhance economic growth and the movement of goods and services.”
The Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs added: “That is what it is all about. We know that in a global market where Barbados plays a role as far as our international development is concerned, it is important that we minimize many of the time-lags in our operations.”
“Time-lags create challenges for business persons. We have heard complaints from business houses in Barbados and beyond about the time it takes to clear a container once it reaches Barbados’ shores. Once Government had examined the whole business of business facilitation, we concluded that we would have to make an amendment that was critical.”
“If you do not minimize these time-lags, the cost of doing business will increase. One or two hours delay in the delivery of a good or service to a manufacturer or a retailer, can cost thousands of dollars,” Ince explained.
He noted that persons had complained to the authorities about the difficulty clearing a container at the Bridgetown Port where in many cases it sits for a week or two weeks.
“You hear people say they go to the airport and it takes an entire day just to clear a small box or sometimes they have to return the next day,” Ince noted.
Ince explained that post clearance audits by Customs after cargo is delivered to the importer, as provided for by the amendment, would allow goods to reach the consumer “in an appropriate time”. He stressed that the amendment was not about dismantling the Customs Department since it is a law enforcement agency that assists in protecting the borders of the country.