Senior Government officials met yesterday with some employees of the Customs Department, which will be integrated into the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) from July 1, to answer queries and allay any fears they might have regarding their employment with that statutory corporation.
Those attending the meeting, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, included Acting Head of the Civil Service, Martin Cox; Acting Permanent Secretary in the Division of Finance of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Nancy Headley and her Deputy, Betty Alleyne-Headley.
Also present were Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Civil Service, Alyson Forte, and the Acting Revenue Commissioner, Tyrone Lavine.??Another meeting will be held today with other Customs employees.
Mr. Cox disclosed that the Minister of the Civil Service, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, would soon make a decision on the staff positions of the External Taxes and Border Control Division of the BRA, which will be the new name for the Customs Department.
He continued: ???The Ministry of the Civil Service has received the proposals from the BRA, through the Finance Division, and my information is that, that Ministry has made its assessment and submitted its recommendations to the Minister.
All that is left is for a decision to be taken so that we can indicate to you and your representatives the number of staff positions that will be incorporated into the BRA, as well as relevant remuneration and job description.??? He stated that the BRA legislation is being amended to give it the authority to carry out the functions established under the Customs Act.??
Mr. Cox said the integration of Customs into the BRA was a major Government decision and employees, therefore, were entitled to have an opportunity to raise any concerns.??He explained that the Division would be headed by a Director, who would report to the Revenue Commissioner.
He added that an important remit of the BRA was to ensure that its staff was properly trained, and disclosed that assistance would continue to be given to improve the Division???s operations through the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre.
???We are going to re-establish on a very firm footing a training programme, starting with that initial Customs course, so that those who go over to BRA, but have not had that training would benefit from it,??? he said. He added that training would also be provided for the BRA Division which deals with internal taxes.
Mr. Cox told the staff that they need not be afraid of moving to a statutory corporation. He disclosed that 100 temporary officers were offered contracts to work at BRA in 2014, and 94 had been appointed, while six had their probationary period extended.
The Barbados Revenue Authority was proclaimed on April 1, 2014, and the functions of the Department of Inland Revenue, the Land Tax Department, the VAT and Excise Divisions of the Customs and Excise Department, and the revenue collecting aspect of the Barbados Licensing Authority were consolidated.
BRA promotes efficiency and effectiveness in the current tax collection systems. It enhances the financial stability and sustainability of the tax collection system, thereby improving compliance; reducing tax leakages; and increasing the level of tax revenue collection.