The Customs Department and the Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) have put systems in place to alleviate issues being experienced by some of their stakeholders, following the recent implementation of ASYCUDA World.
This was made clear when Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn; Chairman of the BPI, Senator Lisa Cummins; Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder; and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), David Jean-Marie, hosted a press conference last evening to give an update on the system’s performance.
Mr. Straughn said Customs and BPI officials had already met with a number of agents and customs brokers and some solutions had already been put in place regarding technical issues.
He stressed that there would be more testing from government’s side with respect to a few reported peculiarities.
“There has been an increase in the number of declarations going through the [ASYCUDA] system and that has been a response to a number of the solutions put in place by the Customs Department, in collaboration with the Bridgetown Port….
“Some people have not experienced difficulty because they have accurately submitted the data, which allows the Customs to perform the functions, which then allows the Barbados Port to do what it has to do. The system is working, therefore the support, which will continue to be given to the stakeholders by Customs, will continue until agents are comfortable,” he stated.
Senator Cummins added that during a meeting held before the press conference, the entire importation of goods process was mapped, so the bottlenecks being experienced could be isolated and solutions applied.
“I want to assure the business community, importers and public that we are putting measures in place that we expect that by the weekend we are able to see a significant improvement in the flow of cargo out of the Bridgetown Port…. We are asking for your patience and…your cooperation, and we are pledging to give our full support to finding a full solution to this matter,” she insisted.
Senator Cummins pointed out that they would be engaging daily with stakeholders in an effort to prevent any problems, and if they do occur to have them resolved quickly. She noted that a lot of training had been conducted by the ASYCUDA World Project Team, prior to its implementation.
She added that starting today, port agents, shipping agents and representatives of the carriers could make contact with the ASYCUDA World Project Team “to schedule additional hand-holding exercises”, so there could be trouble shooting with regard to putting data into the system.
She explained: “If it (the information) is not put into the system correctly at source, it will create bottlenecks throughout the system and ASYCUDA World cannot process it.”
Senator Cummins also said officials would engage with the shipping lines to discuss demurrage charges on behalf of the importers. She stressed that as it related to port and storage fees, the BPI was favourably disposed to agreeing to waive fees on a case-by-case basis, so importers could have diminished costs associated with the transitional period.
Comptroller Holder said a Frequently Asked Questions brochure would be developed; circulated to all the stakeholders and placed on the ASYCUDA portal.
He added that there were a few issues with regard to the tariffs and a team was currently working on them. He noted that those tariff issues, as well as those pertaining to the Customs Procedure Code, should be completed soon.
He pointed out that agents would be allowed to access the BPI portal to correct any information submitted in the manifest. Mr. Holder explained that the BPI would also do adjustments to the controls for receiving the manifest, so they could be easily received in the system.
CEO of BPI, Jean-Marie, said the operating hours of the port would be extended as required, to ensure the proper flow of cargo. He added that this would not be any additional costs to importers.