The Comptroller of Customs is standing firmly behind the employees in his department and a host of measures which he claims are already significantly improving the clearance of goods at Terminal 2 of the Grantley Adams International Airport.
In a direct response to claims levelled by local couriers and brokers in a Barbados TODAY article published Thursday that “gross inefficiencies” on the part of customs officials there are causing a massive backlog of cargo, Comptroller Owen Holder insisted this was not the case.
On the contrary, he declared that his officers have been contending with an approximately 50 per cent increase in imported cargo over an unspecified period and that special measures were implemented to fix the problems without compromising border security.
“The measures included (i) the deployment of three additional customs officers to assist in the clearance of goods; (ii) the assignment of an additional officer to deal with the public regarding the clearing of goods; (iii) the introduction of an appointment system to avoid the long wait of persons doing business with the organisation, and (iv) making provision for the Brokers and Couriers to work overtime, as required,” said Holder in a prepared statement.
Couriers told Barbados TODAY that many of the changes implemented over two weeks ago were made without consultation with them, indirectly causing tremendous frustration for customers who remain in the dark about when their items will be released.
The comptroller however declared that during a meeting of operators on Wednesday, the Customs Department was lauded for an “improvement of over 300 per cent” and for “levelling the playing field” by assigning specific officers to each courier through an appointments system.
He maintained there had been no change to the policy regarding the clearance of goods valued $30 or less, amid some concerns about this category of items.
“The department is aware that brokers and couriers want more appointments, but this can only be facilitated if they are able to improve their internal procedures to process the increased packages faster,” said Holder.
“The Customs Department is undertaking 41 critical reforms, which have already started, and with the passage of the new Customs Bill, there will be the need to update the operations of the department as well as the introduction of the standard operating procedures at all ports of entry. Any queries from the media on any of these reforms or any operational issues should be submitted to [email protected]
“The Customs and Excise Department remains committed to facilitating business through collaborative work with our stakeholders in order to provide an efficient service, and collecting revenue to help finance the provision of public services, whilst keeping Barbados safe and secure,” the statement concluded.