Government has been told to continue seeking innovative and creative ways to move forward in this difficult economic climate.

This encouragement came today from UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean and Acting Resident Coordinator, Khin-Sandi Lwin, as she addressed the official launch of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World???s Implementation at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Ms. Lwin stressed that doing more with less would become increasingly important in these difficult times and expressed the hope that Government ???will continue to seek the best opportunities for the benefit of the people???.

She said that ASYCUDA World software would allow for a greener customs process by reducing paper usage and set the electronic framework to streamline inter-related governmental processes through the single window.

???This opens up the door for increased dialogue with donors who are eager to find concrete data, previously collected but unprocessed for the purposes of knowledge management. This step towards good governance would ensure fairness and transparency in the many processes involved in managing borders, offering protection to officers, fair handling for merchants, as well as lower shipping costs usually transferred to the consumers,??? she stated.

Also addressing the opening ceremony was representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Joel Branski, who said many countries still faced the challenges of maximising the benefits of international trade and being competitive.

???Some of these challenges are associated with traditional trade barriers. Other challenges are related to an excess of bureaucracy, red tape, and unnecessary regulations. These hurdles are now seen as posing greater barriers to trade than tariffs do. That is why the role of customs administration is a crucial one in the competitiveness of countries,??? he surmised.

Mr. Branski proffered the view that it was more important now than ever to streamline customs processes and modernise customs administrations because global competition for foreign investment had increased dramatically and traders and governments were realising the number of hidden costs created by outdated border formalities.

He added that the proliferation of regional trading agreements had made customs work more complex and to remain competitive, traders required prompter and more predictable processing for imports and exports.

He pointed out that Customs was sending a strong message about its commitment to facilitate trade and improve the competitiveness of the country with ASYCUDA World.

The implementation of ASYCUDA World has been financed under the Barbados Competitiveness Programme, which is a US$11.8 million project jointly funded by Government and the IDB.

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