President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Tracey Shuffler, has expressed grave concern that the current Customs go-slow at the Bridgetown Port is having a severe impact on business in the country.
“Our members have been in contact with us over the last several days telling us of the effects on their businesses. Their inability to clear goods in a reasonable time for both sale and use in manufacturing processes is costing them additional demurrage charges as well as potential production down time,” Shuffler said in a press release.
“Businesses just cannot afford these impacts in an economy where growth is so elusive and consumers cannot continue to bear the burden of increased cost with shrunken disposable incomes or the discomfort of limited product choices.”
While acknowledging that the BCCI was aware of a number of challenges being faced by the Customs and Excise Department, she said that she hoped for a speedy resolution to those matters, so normal operations could return to Customs at the Port.
“During this impasse, we encourage favourable consideration to be given particularly to clearance of refrigerated containers and containers with inputs to production for manufacturers and exporters,” she noted.
Shuffler maintained that foreign exchange earning through export could not be compromised and the very nature of perishable imports had to be considered in quality of products available for sale in our markets.
“These are scenarios which concern the Chamber and its membership amid the current Customs go-slow at the Port,” she stated.
The BCCI has asked for an ease in additional costs related to this go slow, as “some of the costs which are accrued in these circumstances are not at all due to any negligence attributable to the businesses which import, but as a direct result from delays beyond their control”.