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Port strongly denies that its system is still causing delays

by Barbados Today
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A major disagreement appears to be brewing between customs officials and at least one international package delivery company, which is blaming implementation of the ASYCUDA World software for its failure to have packages cleared by local customs officials.   

Barbados TODAY was recently contacted by Wendy Rushlow, an official from Rose Computers, an American electronics company in South Burlington, Vermont who in September last year shipped an electronic device to a Barbadian customer.

However, over three months later, the item has not been received by the local purchaser, leaving customs and UPS blaming each other for the situation.

In three separate emails to the electronic company between October 16th and December 25th last year, UPS, through telecommunications company WorldCom blamed “implementation issues of the clearance system by Barbados Customs” along with “intermittent outages” for the delays.

“There is no estimated time for the situation to normalise,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Comptroller of Customs Owen Holder has flatly denied the allegations and accused both UPS and WorldCom of spreading information that is “absolutely untrue” about operations at the country’s Customs and Excise department.

To the contrary, Holder argued that despite some kinks which affected the system when it was initially implemented, ASYCUDA World is now working “perfectly”. The problem, he suggested, is with some couriers who are simply refusing to make necessary adjustments to their internal processes.

“In other words, they have been accustomed processing the system through ASYCUDA ++ where limited information is being put into the system. Now that the new system is calling for a certain level of information, they have not made the adjustments in their working processes to the system and as a result, they are having problems getting out shipments but that has nothing to do with processing the shipments through ASYCUDA World,” Holder explained.

He added: “I think it is downright unfair for them to be saying that it is as a result of ASYCUDA World having outages and issues. It is not so, and once information is put into ASYCUDA World correctly, your entry will be processed within milliseconds.”

The ASYCUDA World system was implemented on September 7 promising a more modern, robust and business-friendly customs management experience. At the time, many local businesses were complaining about delays with the new software along with general complaints about the time it was taking to clear items from the port.

By mid-December, port officials hailed the new system as a success, contending that all implementation challenges had been fixed.

So upset was Holder about the most recent allegations that he challenged UPS to produce “concrete proof” and stressed that such reckless statements did not auger well for Barbados’ image as a commercial destination.

“I am available to have discussions with anyone, but it is not fair to blame customs when couriers are having issues with their internal operations. DHL came to me with a problem and we sat down with them and worked together and eventually they admitted that ASYCUDA World is not the problem. I continue to work daily with FEDEX because I understand the implications for trade in those organisations,” revealed Holder.

But he added: “To date, nobody from UPS has contacted me about a problem. I have reached out to them and nobody has responded. I had a meeting with all the couriers, and they didn’t even send a manager. I have been trying to find out what is their issue and they have not responded. WorldCom is also irresponsible because they never contacted anybody in Barbados to find out what is the situation.”

He further described allegations of intermittent outages affecting the new system as “absolutely untrue” adding that any outages have been short, and couriers were notified in a timely manner.

At the time of publication, UPS’ Senior Manager, Public Relations was actively looking into the matter but had not yet offered a comment. kareemsmith@barbadostoday.bb

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