Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn (centre); CEO of Freight Handling Services, Marc Sampson (left), and Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder, in discussion during a recent tour of three of the Customs Department’s offsite warehouses. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The Customs and Excise Department remains committed to facilitating business through collaborative work with its stakeholders.

In addition, says its Comptroller Owen Holder, the department, which is undertaking 41 critical reforms, is dedicated to providing an efficient service as it collects revenue to help finance the provision of public services, while keeping Barbados safe and secure.

In giving an example of his department’s commitment to business facilitation, Mr. Holder shared that the brokers and couriers who conduct business at Terminal 2, Grantley Adams International Airport, recently requested a meeting with his management team to discuss their issues and concerns. 

He noted that a major point of interest coming out of the meeting was that there was an approximately 50 per cent increase of imported cargo.

“We held a walk through two days later at Terminal 2 which resulted in the implementation of a number of business facilitation measures which the Customs Department considered necessary to alleviate the issues, without compromising border security.

“The measures included the deployment of three additional customs officers to assist in the clearance of goods; the assignment of an additional officer to deal with the public regarding the clearing of goods; the introduction of an appointment system to avoid the long wait of persons doing business with the organisation, and making provision for the brokers and couriers to work overtime, as required.”

Mr. Holder said that in preparation for the debate on the new Customs Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, November 16, he provided a status report to the Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, who then requested that the department reconvene a meeting with all of the operators the next day, to ascertain the impact of the new measures.

“Those at the meeting reported an improvement of over 300 per cent, and thanked the Customs Department for its immediate response to the issues. In addition, the operators thanked the department for ‘levelling the play field’ at Terminal 2, since officers have now been assigned to each courier, according to the appointments made,” he stated.

The Comptroller said that with the implementation of ASYCUDA World in September 2019, all manifests were required to be submitted electronically through the system. 

However, he explained that for the past two years, some couriers were still submitting some of their manifests manually, and they were being accepted, even though the update to the new standard operating procedure required the electronic submission of the manifests for both commercial and non-commercial items.

“We are aware that brokers and couriers want more appointments with the Customs Department, but this can only be facilitated if they are able to improve their internal procedures to process the increased packages faster,” Mr. Holder pointed out.

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