If Opposition Leader Mia Mottley had her way, the Customs Department would not be made to merge with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA).
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader made her position clear this evening as she responded to the 2015 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals that were delivered in the House of Assembly yesterday by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
“The Barbados Labour Party has not changed its policy. We still believe that Customs should not be included in a revenue authority in this country,” said Mottley, as she showed support for the Customs officers who were opposing the move.
Over the past three months, union representatives of the approximately 300 Customs & Excise Department workers have been meeting with Government officials in an attempt to iron out a number of issues, including job description.
This has caused the deadline for the merging of the two departments to be changed twice so far. A new deadline is yet to be decided on.
Mottley charged that Customs officers were “coming into an agency where the senior leadership is not of Customs and does not understand the role of Customs”.
Pointing out that Customs also had a responsibility for border security, Mottley said the department was now being referred to as “Collywood because everybody in Customs in Barbados is acting”.
“They have argued with legitimacy and cogency,” she said, referring to the case being made by Customs officers against their integration into the BRA. She acknowledged that while their concerns were “appropriate”, their protest action in the form of a go-slow at the Bridgetown Port was hurting the private sector.
She said what was especially “bad” about the process was that Customs officers were yet to be presented with documents telling them what the posts were that they were being given and their job descriptions.