Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley in discussion with Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, and officials during a recent courtesy call at Ilaro Court. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Critical matters pertaining to improved training opportunities for customs officials, and enhanced relations were among the areas discussed when Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

During the discussion at Ilaro Court this week, the two officials touched on a range of issues of interest to Barbados and the region aimed at improving the operations of one of the island’s main revenue collecting agencies.

The Prime Minister used the opportunity to inform the Secretary General about the work done by her Government to strengthen the Customs Department’s human and technical capabilities to ensure the island’s borders remain safe from illicit activity.

She also stressed the importance of implementing a strong and comprehensive training programme that would address the skills-set deficits at all levels in the Customs Department.

“Based on discussions, one of the things we recognise is that a major part of improving this country’s skills-set in government agencies… as well as state-owned enterprises all comes back to training and that is the only way to achieving greater efficiencies, which are so badly needed,” Ms. Mottley asserted.

Secretary General Dr. Mikuriya said he had been closely watching Barbados’ progress regarding efficient customs operations and the ease of doing business.

He said he was also pleased with the creation of the electronic single window, adding: “I am sure that you are interested in investing more in customs…. In this way, customs can establish more trust because what is more important is their interactions with stakeholders, customers and other business and other government agencies.”

The Secretary General pledged the WCO’s commitment to Barbados and the region. Also sitting in on the talks were Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and Senior Minister Coordinating for Governance and Policy, Dale Marshall; Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ryan Straughn, and government and WCO officials.

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