Barbadians could be forced to pay a higher price for some items if a go-slow at the Customs Department at the Bridgetown Port continues, warns president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Tracey Shuffler.
Addressing yesterday’s BCCI luncheon at the Hilton, Shuffler called for issues surrounding the amalgamation of that department into the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) to be urgently resolved, saying members remained very concerned about the impact “the current Customs go-slow at the Barbados Port” was having on businesses.
“Manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and other businesses are experiencing delays in clearance of containers, which is restricting sales, hampering production and adding costs, which will ultimately filter down to consumers,” she said.
“We strongly urge resolution to the matters causing this impasse and encourage a return to normal operations,” she added.
During a two-hour meeting yesterday at its Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters, officials of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) advised its members not to sign option forms that were reportedly being circulated by BRA.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had indicated last weekend that the transition of the Customs and Excise department into the BRA would go ahead.
That deadline is set for July 1.
In addition to that concern, Shuffler said BCCI members also wanted to see a number of outstanding issues addressed. And she added that some of the solutions were “at our own doorstep in the private sector”.
“One of the most enduring cries from businesses continue to be related to financing . . . I challenge the financing sector to dig deeper and to work harder to bring solutions, which will help both small and larger businesses to finance for growth,” said Shuffler.
“Another necessary change has to be that we must learn to see research and development spending as an investment for the future and not an expense item to be sacrificed at every sales dip,” she said.
She also called for improvements in the areas of business facilitation, while noting that there was still a need for concessions being offered to be clearly defined, accessible, equally administered across qualifying businesses and well supported by appropriate legislation and regulations.