Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), Alex McDonald, has described the go-slow at the Customs & Excise Department as unacceptable.
And he is urging the relevant authorities to resolve the impasse urgently in order to minimize the impact on the import and export of goods.
“We know that these things take time, we often have to face it in our own businesses, but we can say that there are some areas that are very, very critical to the future development of our nation, and the movement of products and good through the port is one of those. Most importantly for the movement of products and services out of the port . . . that is what’s going to save our island and if we can’t get it right now and quickly, it will surely tarnish the image that we have,” McDonald explained.
Just last month, Customs staff embarked on a work to rule, in objection to Government’s plan to merge their department with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
The move has reportedly resulted in a serious backlog at the island’s port, as the majority of the 300 Customs workers remain adamant that they do not want to be transferred to BRA.
“What we want to point out is that no good comes when there is not efficiency, and efficiency must mean a certain level of throughput through the port. I think that in the past we have been approaching a level which can be acceptable, but right now we’re at a point where that level is unacceptable,” the BPSA chairman told Barbados TODAY.
While very concerned about the impact of the Customs situation on businesses, McDonald made it clear that the BPSA would not intervene in matters of “employer/employee relations”.
“We have not gotten to the right or wrong of the Customs officers’ issues because we think that that is an employer and employee relationship, which they’ll have to solve . . . what we can say is that a quick and rapid resolution to this is an important thing.”
“What we’ll like to see is a regularization of the process . . . we have to see a normalization and an improvement, we must not ever think for a moment that the status quo that we had before was the most efficient way of doing it. What we’re encouraging is that if there’s good coming out of the impasse or the ongoing talks, that a much better processing ability and a much better approach must be had if we’re going to take advantage of a new way of thinking,” he said.