Government is moving ahead with plans to integrate the Customs and Excise Department into the Barbados Revenue Authority.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said a two-year pause had affected the efficiency of the ports of entry, adding that of major concern for the Customs and Excise Department is their lack of staff.
He revealed that during the period 2015-2017, 30 customs officers had retired and this has resulted in an immediate deficit in the department and difficulty finding those equipped to handle the posts.
“Unfortunately, although we have seen an increase in the civil establishment of the department and the persons working there, this is not sufficient to match the sheer volume of work coming through the ports of entry,” he said.
“We have a customs department that could do with some more workers,” he added.
The minister highlighted that the position of customs officer required specific skills which could not be found among all members of the civil service. He suggested that a systematic approved training course be created through the BRA.
On the issue of increased gun violence in the country, Sinckler implored customs officers, brokers and the general populace to do their part in eradicating any channels through which illegal weapons make their way into the country.
“We are fully committed in the Government . . . to working with you . . . in keeping our trade clean, keeping it consistent and to our benefit,” he added.
Sinckler was speaking to members of the Customs Brokers Association at their annual general meeting at the Small Business Centre yesterday.