Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn (centre), in discussion with the General Manager of Tropical Shipping, Andre Gibson, and Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The new Customs Bill will be debated in Parliament next Tuesday.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, made the disclosure recently, after a tour of three of the Customs Department’s offsite warehouses – Freight Handling Services, Tropical Shipping and Eric Hassell Shipping Ltd.

Mr. Straughn told the Barbados Government Information Service: “Within the context of the legislation, we will seek to establish the Trusted Trader Programme on a legal footing, as well as make provisions for what is known as Authorised Economic Operators, which is really to give benefits to those importers and shippers who are compliant and can be trusted, so that the process of clearance can be expedited, notwithstanding any security concerns.

“We would, therefore, be in a position to see goods moving in and out of the country, so benefits could also redound to Barbadian small businesses as they reach that stage where they have the capacity to export.”

Mr. Straughn, who was accompanied by Deputy Permanent Secretary, Wendy Odle; Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder, and his deputies, Sonea Jordan-Clarke and Cheryl-Ann Cumberbatch, said he wanted to hear how Government’s reforms were impacting the operations of the businesses.

He noted that Government had been reforming the Customs Department and its operations over time, and significant improvements were made with the introduction of ASYCUDA World.

“We have asked the warehouses to install scanners to ensure that the security concerns are met, both in the Bridgetown Port and at the offsite warehouses for clearance. This tour allowed us to assess some of the reforms and make sure that they are working, no business is being disadvantaged, and that there is consistency of application across the board….

“In addition, we have been able to gather data so Customs can improve its risk management process.  Customs officials will go back, look at the data and see what changes can be made to improve the process,” the Minister said.

Government, Mr. Straughn stressed, remains committed to business facilitation and improving the way business is conducted in this country.  He added that officials were keen to ensure people received their imported items ahead of the coming yuletide season.

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