Doing business with Government is about to get a lot easier – at least that is what officials are promising with the implementation of an Electronic Single-Window (ESW) system.
The ESW links over 50 Government departments and agencies and allows applicants to submit documents and to fill out forms via an integrated online platform.
Addressing this morning’s launch, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said the system should significantly ^ Government’s tax collection, efficiency and transparency.
Sinckler also suggested that it would redound to improved relations between Government and the private sector, as well as reduced incidents of corruption, in addition to more accurate and timely
The US$11.8 million system forms a part of the Barbados Competitiveness Programme started some six years ago. It was carried out by way of a US$10 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The other US$1.8 million was provided by Government.
The system, which is currently 90 per cent complete, should be fully implemented by the end of March.
However, the IDB’s Chief of Operations Javier Urra said the financial institution was already looking ahead to phase two of programme, for which the IDB had already committed US$400,000 in technical assistance grants.
“I think today Barbados is a more competitive country. We all know that in the current economic situation of the world development comes from a diversity of factors – investing in innovation, investing in productivity and investing in competitiveness is the key decision to make, and I am so glad that Barbados has done that,” the IDB spokesman told participants at the launch, which took place at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The move was also welcomed by the private sector officials who over the years have been lobbying for Government to make its operations more efficient.
Given this island’s less than favourable ranking when it comes to the ease of doing business, as well as recent concerns about its level of competitiveness, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has also hailed the development as a very positive one.
“The ability to handle data efficiently has become a key component in international competitiveness and again this project has sought to do just that. Initiatives like this project can indeed impact Barbados’ economy positively as greater clarity and greater confidence are imperatives for businesses importing in this country,” said Anthony Brancker, chairman of BCCI’s retail and distribution committee.
Brancker said he was looking forward to faster clearance of goods, less bureaucracy, reduced trade transactional charges, improved transparency, greater clarity in the classification of goods, improved flexibility to adjust regulatory filings and greater level of predictability.
However, the private sector spokesman acknowledged that there were still some inefficiencies in the system, while pointing to the operations of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) and the Customs & Excise Department.
“As we look ahead, the private sector is anxious to see an enhanced system of revenue collection, and we look forward to that collection forming a part of this electronic single window, which removes the inefficiencies often experienced while travelling to the Barbados Revenue Authority and our Customs offices,” Brancker said, adding that they were also anxiously awaiting the day when e-payment methods would be introduced in Government departments.
Besides Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados is the only other Caribbean country to have an ESW in place.