Government is looking to appoint a Comptroller of Customs along with three deputies.
Word of this came from Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn who was leading off the debate on the Customs (Amendment) Bill 2019 in the House of Assembly earlier today.
“You would have heard the Prime Minister indicate in her address in the Budget that the customs department has not had a Comptroller since 2005. As part of the rebuilding of the Customs Department in the last few weeks we have advertised for the post of comptroller and deputy comptrollers as well.
He continued: “There are meant to be three deputies. This demonstrates the seriousness…. This Government sees the rebuilding of the customs department as a critical department for the success of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation plan.”
Straughn said along with filling the vacancies, there were changes to the Customs Department’s structure that were already being regularised.
“Once those persons are recruited, we have also engaged a long-time Customs expert to help support that management team. We have also established a Customs Officer 4 position because there were a number of officers within the Customs Department who were performing as clerical officers, who were essentially performing customs functions. But, because of the name of the position you would have some issues with persons being transferred which impacted the department. We are in process of making sure those persons who perform customs functions are so designated as part of the rebuilding effort of the department,” he said.
The Minister explained that the reform was not only about the computer system upgrade to the Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda World) but the enhancement of the human resources as well.
“. . . For the customs department to be truly effective in the 21st century it means that those persons charged with the responsibility of performing customs duties their skills must also be enhanced. If we are asking persons to engage the technology and use all this data it means the skillset of customs officers for the future must change.”
The Christ Church East Central MP said Government was trying to attract skilled workers to customs.
“We are trying to attract to the Customs Department persons who have an IT background and persons who have an accounting background who can be trained to become customs officers. Those skillsets are critical for allowing Barbados to be effective in using all of this data. The mining of this data and interrogation of this data are critical.”
“In this day and age with the various skills with respect to what is required for trade facilitation… trade is the most data intensive area that one could ever want to be involved in. It means the department must develop a specialism within the context of customs officers with respects to the effective management of the department so that those skillsets become very important…”