BROKERS SAY THEY’RE NOT TO BLAME FOR DELAYS
CLEARING CARGO AT BRIDGETOWN PORT
President of the Barbados Customs Brokers and Clerks Association (BCBCA) Louis Forde has defended brokers against a claim by a Government Minister that they were chargeable for much of the delay in clearing cargo on the Bridgetown Port. Denying the allegation that was made by Minister of Energy and Business Senator Lisa Cummins earlier this week, Forde said it was the wait for information from importers that was holding up the method.
“Whilst the broker inputs the data, their clients – the importers – have to offer relevant and proper documentation and in a timely manner to avoid delays,” he said in an announcement.
Speaking within the Upper House on Wednesday, Minister Cummins said hold-ups were largely on account of brokers putting inaccurate data into the integrated customs management system, ASYCUDA World.
“Oftentimes, 80 per cent of the problems with a container not being released relate to the non-input of information from a broker. Oftentimes, you will have information that’s inaccurately entered into the system….Oftentimes, depending on what the declaration has been on that item, it’s incorrectly declared and it has been sent back for review,” she said.
Nonetheless, searching for to set the record straight, Forde said brokers shouldn’t be blamed since that they had to get the required information from importers.
“Having not attended the last 4 meetings of the Sub-committee of the Social Partnership on port performance and efficiency, and with good reasonable excuse, Senator Cummins wouldn’t have heard the statistics presented by the BCBCA which showed that 90 per cent of the containers within the Port which weren’t entered, or to make use of her term, ‘non-input’ were awaiting documentation from the importers, or were awaiting permits or certificates since the documentation was late from the importers,” he said.
Minister Cummins had also said that delays were compounded when documentation from other ministries or departments was required to clear the cargo.
“Depending on what’s in that container, there could also be a necessity for clearance by agriculture, there could also be a clearance by health, there could also be a clearance by veterinary health… ,” she said.
Using pet food importation for instance, Forde agreed that delays may very well be related to the strategy of obtaining a permit from the Veterinary Services section of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“If a broker gets documents just as or after cargo arrives, then to find there may be pet food within the consignment, the broker now has to begin the permit process through the Veterinary Services section of the Ministry of Agriculture. This then ends in delays in-putting and clearing,” he explained.
Forde said the BCBCA would proceed to support all efforts to make the ports and customs clearance processes more efficient.
“We eagerly await the re-energising of the Barbados Trade and Business Facilitation Committee which has not been meeting to fulfil its mandate of overseeing the implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement which has projects designed to help in improving clearance in any respect ports of entry,” he added.
The BCBCA president stressed that the organisation previously worked with Senator Cummins and took part “robustly in all committees and arrangements put in place to diminish the dwell time of cargo on the Port, and for efficient document processing through the Customs and Excise Department”.
“We’ve got trained scores of brokers and clerks in the correct use of ASYCUDA World, before, during and after its implementation and can restart similar training in 2023 on the request of the Customs and Excise Department,” Forde said. (MM)