The Customs and Excise Department has been hit by processing delays which are affecting the clearing of goods.
The development comes against the backdrop of concerns expressed by local businessmen this week that the ten per cent National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which was to be removed effective July 1, was still showing up on their customs invoices.
Since then, Acting Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn had assured that the matter would be rectified.
However, a breakdown has occurred in the ASYCUDA processing system.
In a statement released by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) this evening, Acting Comptroller of Customs Annette Weekes explained that due to an overload, persons trying to access the system were either being “knocked off” or cashiers were experiencing a “hanging effect”, and had to wait for a period of time before completing transactions.
“Members of the public are asked to note that a surge in usage on the Customs and Excise Department’s ASYCUDA++ System has resulted in some further difficulties being experienced. As a result, importers and exporters are experiencing delays in processing their documents,” the BGIS release stated.
Weekes appealed for all users to remain off the system as the information technology staff of the Barbados Revenue Authority work to rectify the problem.
In the interim, Weekes informed persons experiencing delays or challenges that the department was working to put temporary measures in place.
Some customs brokers had complained to Barbados TODAY this afternoon that millions of dollars in goods belonging to their clients remained at the Bridgetown Port and could not be cleared because the special information technology (IT) system known as ASYCUDA, was forced to shut down.
The ASYCUDA system allows Government to streamline and simplify supply-chain processes from the point of importation, to customs clearance, to final importers to consumers.
It also allows importers, exporters or their agents to submit their single administrative document along with supporting documentation for the processing of their goods from their homes or businesses.
Earlier this week Straughn had said the systems would have to be updated overnight “just to make sure that those persons with goods in the port can actually clear those at zero per cent, given the repeal of the levy”.
In the wake of concerns that the NSRL was being applied to goods cleared at the port after July 1 when the levy was abolished, Straughn announced that Government had directed the Customs Department not to apply the NSRL on goods awaiting clearance whether or not they arrived at the port before its repeal date.
Straughn explained at a news conference on Tuesday that initially it was expected that goods that had arrived here before July 1would be subjected to the ten per cent levy.
“Now in principle . . . and I think part of the issue was that last year when the NSRL was raised from two to ten per cent on July first, there was a directive issued by the previous Minister of Finance that would have allowed the goods that were already landed to only pay the two per cent rather than pay the ten per cent last year,” the Acting Minister of Finance said during his address to a news conference.
“Now in the same vein we anticipated that that would remain the case this year, such that persons who would have had goods landed into the port prior to July first should have attracted the ten per cent visa a vis zero per cent, which is applicable from July first, 2018. Now having consulted the actual text in the law, we recognized obviously that the persons are allowed to pay zero per cent in National Social Responsibility Levy, even though the goods were landed before,” he added.