The long-delayed transition of customs officers to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) is finally set to take effect from
Acting Head of the Civil Service Sonja Welch made the disclosure at one of two meetings for customs officers to provide them with information on the transitioning, the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) said in a release late today.
During the sessions at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, officers were briefed extensively on the move, the BGIS release said.
The senior civil servant acknowledged that a number of previous deadlines had not been achieved, but she seemed certain that this one would be met, telling the officers there had been good progress in meetings with the trade unions, including talks this week with both the National Union of Public Workers and the Barbados Workers’ Union “to clarify any matters” they needed addressed.
“During the course of the day, you will be getting information letters on the transition process and on Monday, September 5, you will receive a package, including an offer letter,” the BGIS release quoted Welch as advising the Customs officers.
According to the release, Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins explained that the information letters would set out details pertaining to the transition and would include “lot of the key issues” that would assist the officers in making their decision.
Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers emphasized that the option letters should be returned to BRA no later than September 19. She explained that among the available
options would be that of permanent appointment or secondment for a period of up to two years.
Sivers also said while the revenue collection agency had a framework and a proposed organization structure, the final organization structure would only be determined after the appointment of a senior management team.
“Our belief is that while we may have a proposal, we feel that senior management should be involved in how the organization is structured,” Sivers was quoted as saying.
She explained that there would be three main departments – Airport Operations, Bridgetown Port Operations and Mobile Operations, which would service all ports and locations outside the airport or Bridgetown Port.
The road to transition has been riddled with problems as Customs officers had initially opposed the decision, claiming border security would be compromised.
The officers also staged strikes, walkouts and various forms of action protesting against what they claimed were attempts by the authorities to force them to sign option sheets.
One of the major demands of the unions was that a number of vacant posts at Customs had to be filled before the transition was even considered.