Government will soon be taking legislation to Parliament that will see the enhancement of operations at the Port of Bridgetown, and ensure that it meets its international obligations.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, made this disclosure as he addressed the virtual launch of the Port Community System (PCS) Project on the Zoom platform on Wednesday.
“The Government shall be introducing legislation shortly to support the full implementation of the FAL (Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic) Convention as it relates to the use of the Maritime Single Window in Barbados for vessels trading and moving in our space,” he said.
He explained that it was recognised that there was an urgent need to improve the competitive position of the Port, and Government, therefore, thought it prudent to go beyond the Single Window with the creation of an overarching enhanced trade facilitation framework in the form of a PCS.
Mr. Humphrey said the PCS was considered a critical infrastructural element and a reform tool for the trade facilitation architecture in Barbados.
“The PCS in my view, is more than a technical response. It affords us, as a Government, a policy position that helps us not only to manage needs, but also to rectify existing challenges and maximise opportunities for the advancement of Barbados and the region within the maritime space,” the Minister pointed out.
He added that the cloud-based PCS project would also bring Barbados in compliance with international requirements, which required ports to streamline their formality and document requirements; accept paper or electronic copies of documents rather than original copies; implement Single Windows for the sharing of information and implementing a Trade Information Portal where average release times can be collated and published routinely.
Speaking during the launch, Chairman of the Barbados Port Inc. (BPI), Peter Odle, explained that the PCS was a change management project.
“Imagine for a moment the entire port community of government agencies (Customs, Immigration, health authorities), trade agencies (shipping lines, freight forwarders, agents, trucking companies, customs brokers, shippers, importers, exporters and others), along with representatives of the Barbados Port Inc., all utilising a single services portal, through which all trade, logistics and business processes can be managed,” he outlined.
Mr. Odle added that, under the new system, stakeholders were also expected to have 24-hour access with secure, real-time processing and distribution of information and tracking, tracing and surveillance of cargo capabilities and a reduction in the net cost of doing business through a consistent logistics chain.
Under the PCS, the BPI would take the lead in the project’s implementation over the next 30 months and take responsibility for establishing a Project Steering Committee (PSC) that would coordinate and guide the project implementation process.
“The PSC will be chaired by the Chief Executive Officer of the BPI, with support from his executive team,” Mr. Odle said.
That team is expected to comprise representatives from the Ministries of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy and Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship; the Barbados Customs and Excise Department; the Shipping Association of Barbados; the Barbados Customs Brokers and Clerks Associations Inc.; the Transportation Intermediaries of Barbados, and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce.
The cost of the project is estimated at 540, 258 Euros, with the BPI providing 53 per cent of the cost, or 286, 840 Euros. The remaining 47 per cent is being facilitated by the Caribbean Development Bank, through a grant from its Special Fund Resources allocated from the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement CARICOM Single Market and Economy Standby Facility for Capacity Building under the 11th European Development Fund.