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The draft Customs Bill 2019 will come under the microscope this month when a series of virtual consultations is held for the business community in Barbados.

The workshops are being hosted by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), in collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department (CED). They will be held on Tuesday, August 11; Thursday, August 20; and Wednesday, August 26; via Zoom.

There will be an official opening ceremony next Tuesday, from 9:00 to 11:35 a.m., and the working sessions, where the draft Bill will be reviewed and fully ventilated, will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Those members of the business community who are interested in participating in the sessions should email the Barbados Chamber of Commerce at bcci@barbadoschamber.com or register online by clicking here.

The objectives of the consultations are to highlight proposed changes in the draft Barbados Customs Bill and allow the business community to make comments on it.

They will also learn about the country’s obligations under the World Trade Organization, the Trade Facilitation Agreement and CARICOM and how they translate into customs requirements as they relate to import and export processes.

Chairperson of the BCCI’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, Lalu Vaswani; Comptroller of Customs, Owen Holder; and Executive Director of the BCCI, Misha Lobban-Clarke, underscored the importance of the three meetings, saying they were necessary to sensitise the business community about the legislation and any implications.

Mr. Vaswani continued: “The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s continuing advocacy for enhancing the ease of doing business in Barbados seeks, through better trade facilitation, the lowering of costs for the ultimate benefit of all consumers. The Chamber’s collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department to host this trade community consultation reflects our commitment to national development through education, dialogue and consensus.”

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Mr. Holder added: “The draft bill creates the opportunity for the Customs and Excise Department to finally update its long outdated legislation that dates back to 1962.  

The Bill seeks not only to provide the legal framework for the department to function efficiently in a modern Customs environment, but also makes provision for stakeholders to be empowered and participate in the decision-making processes.

“We eagerly look forward to the upcoming consultations to enlighten stakeholders on the coming new legal environment, and how the new changes will impact on doing business going forward.”  ​

Mrs. Lobban-Clarke said the Chamber was pleased to partner with the CED to engage members of the trade community and other key stakeholders, with a view to educating as well as soliciting feedback and comments on the proposed changes in the Bill.

“The BCCI recognises that the legislative changes in the form of a new Customs Bill will significantly revise and update the Customs Act, which was first published in the early ‘60s and it is therefore imperative that the entire trading community appreciates the changes being made and their implications for businesses,” she stated.

To get the broadest perspectives and maximum benefit from this engagement process, Mrs. Lobban-Clarke explained that the consultations would be led by technical experts from the BCCI Trade and Facilitation Committee; the CED; the CARICOM Secretariat; the Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship; the Shridath Ramphal Centre at the UWI Cave Hill Campus and the Barbados Customs Brokers & Clerks Association.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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