The delay in the Customs Department transitioning into the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) is costing the country.
This disclosure came from Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, over the weekend as he addressed the annual general meeting of the Customs Brokers at the Small Business Centre in Fontabelle.
Mr. Sinckler told the gathering: “What has happened because of those delays is that it has pushed back our agenda for bringing levels of efficiency to that department and it needs to be addressed.
“I know that you are very anxious to tell me about all the challenges you are having down there and a lot of those relate to the reform process that needs to take place. It has to happen now because it is costing the country considerable amounts of money and it is costing our public increased fees and charges and prices in their day-to-day exposure to commercial trade in Barbados, and it can no longer continue.”
The Minister stressed that Government was committed to moving ahead with the new system and disclosed that as early as this Thursday, Cabinet could be apprised of the new way forward that was being contemplated. “Of course we will engage with our partners in the unions and others in this particular regard,” he promised.
He noted that the transition of Customs to the BRA was a policy decision of Government, which had been discussed from about 2002. He pointed out that central revenue authorities had been set up in various countries across the world and highlighted Guyana and Canada. He added that the Malaysian Government had sent officials here to examine Barbados’ system.
Mr. Sinckler indicated that the establishment of a central revenue authority was an efficient way of bringing all of the major tax collection agencies under one roof so the tax system could be administered effectively.
“Change is never easy, especially when it is unknown; there is a lot of resistance. I personally was a little surprised, I must say, at the level of resistance coming from the unions and also from some of the officers, to this move. But it is a move to which Government is committed and to which we have spent a considerable amount of time….
“I was pretty confident that we had resolved a lot of the issues…but still there is a stalemate relative to appointments, and other issues. The one relating to appointments is far more contentious. There are rules and laws governing how public officers are appointed and whilst everybody would like to get an appointment, …if the rules do not allow for you to be appointed, then we can’t appoint you because it would be challenged in the system,” he contended.