Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, believes a group of people should be trained in the basics of customs work so Government could draw on those resources when the need arises.
Mr. Sinckler expressed this view over the weekend while addressing the Customs Brokers’ Annual General Meeting at the Small Business Centre in Fontabelle.
“We need a cadre of persons in Barbados trained in the basics of customs work from which we can draw if needed at a moment’s notice and that can be smoothly integrated into the service if and when required,” he stated.
He pointed out that Government was having some challenges maintaining staffing levels at the Customs Department and indicated that having such a group would go a long way towards addressing some of the challenges.
“Unfortunately, while we have seen a reasonable expansion in the civil establishment of the Customs, this has not been at a rate sufficient to match the sheer volume of work which has been coming through our ports of entry.
“In addition, it has been compounded by the fact that over the past 10 years or so, the Customs Department has seen a fairly sizeable increase in the levels of retirements from the service…,” he explained.
The Minister pointed out that the Customs Department had received permission and filled 15 posts last year. However, he stated, close to 30 officers retired from the service between 2015 and 2017, causing an immediate deficit.
He added that there was no permanent systematic training course for customs officers in Barbados and suggested that key stakeholders who relied on the skills sets of customs officers should urgently focus their attention on resolving this deficiency.
Mr. Sinckler called on the brokers to reach out to the office of Comptroller of Customs, the Ministries of Finance, Training and Education, as well as the Personnel Administration Division and meet urgently to begin work on establishing a comprehensive basic customs officers training course in Barbados.