Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins has sought to assure Barbadians that there will be no food shortages this Christmas, despite delays and disruptions in the global supply chain.
Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday, during debate on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic Bill 2021, she said the island currently has enough reserves to sustain both local demand and the tourism sector over the winter period, although global shortages due to the disruptions in supply networks have had an effect on the region.
“It is the inefficiencies that may exist in the logistics chain that will cause challenges. We, for example, have seen in some instances that some products that used to take six to seven weeks to arrive on island, they are now taking 12 to 14 weeks … but there is also a significant increase in cost, sometimes by 200 or 300 per cent by the time they land in the country.
“We are dealing with those kinds of external challenges over which we have no control. We don’t control the global supply chain from the Far East, from Europe where it has shifted. We don’t control the nearshoring from the US where many suppliers have not attempted to procure goods…. But what we do have to take full control of are the internal inefficiencies where they exist,” Senator Cummins said.
She said it is in the island’s best interest to increase efficiencies all across the board within the shipping and logistics frameworks at the ports of entry, to avoid unnecessary delays and costs that will inevitably have a negative impact on consumers and businesses.
The Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic Bill 2021 provides for the implementation of the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic to make provision for the electronic transmission and exchange of information in order to facilitate and expedite the clearance of international maritime traffic and to provide for related purposes.
It seeks to implement a maritime single window on the island, which will come in the form of a digital portal for ships to submit their advance information, to prevent unnecessary delays in maritime traffic as well as provide consistency in the information provided to all requisite authorities.
Opposition Senator Crystal Drakes lauded the Bill, saying that streamlining services within the maritime industry was an important step in creating a sustainable blue economy sector.
“We have to ensure that legislation such as this is enacted to support good governance in the maritime space, and this is clearly important,” she said.
“It is providing for an ease of doing business as it relates to port facilities and the clearance of goods. I am hoping that along with this Bill, there is other legislation that will form the architecture around what we call the blue economy going forward.” (SB)