Barbadians involved in the business of imports and exports will find it easier in the coming months to do business across the public sector when over two dozen government departments are merged into an Electronic Single Window (ESW).
The first step to making business facilitation easier took place this afternoon with the signing of an agreement between Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, and Secretary-General for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebeca Grynspan.
The signing ceremony was held during the 15th Session of UNCTAD, now on its second day at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Minister Symmonds disclosed that his Ministry had identified 28 government departments to be brought under the single window when the project is completed, in approximately 13 months.
The Minister said the ESW would enhance the island’s competitiveness, by providing a seamless “one door stop” for payments and processing of goods and services for consumers and investors.
The project, Mr Symmonds shared, was first proposed in 2004 by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business when he was a former Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We have almost 20 years later come to that point, and that is the real success story here, that a challenge, which has bedeviled Barbados for the better part of a decade and a half, has now been finally wrestled to the ground,” he stated.
He continued: “I am extremely pleased Secretary-General to be Minister at this point and I’m very pleased that we are able to do it at a time when we’re in the middle of a UNCTAD Conference, and I take great pleasure in that as well. But I do believe that it allows for us to do our business of government, a lot more efficiently. It allows for us to treat to private enterprise a lot more efficiently and in a way that ensures competitiveness.”
Meanwhile, UNCTAD’s Secretary-General Grynspan said her organisation was pleased to support Barbados’ efforts to explore opportunities for trade, improved competitiveness of its private sector, increased revenues and improved production in the supply chain.
“UNCTAD is convinced that setting up an Electronic Single Window for trade is critical to…the various mandates and aspirations of all the public agencies that take part in this process,” the Secretary-General underlined.
Ms. Grynspan thanked the Minister and by extension the Government, for the confidence placed in the organisation’s capacity to execute this project.
“Now, this is really south-south cooperation. And [earlier] today, we were talking about that, that is this new kind of cooperation … that is much more horizontal where we all learn from each other, and I think that ASYCUDA brings all those externalities, all those benefits to the table. So, thank you very much and all the best, and a lot of success on this journey,” she said.