BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 15, CMC – The Barbados government Wednesday announced plans to establish the relevant institutional infrastructure to ensure that greater levels of efficiency, productivity and international competitiveness are achieved.
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler, addressing the launch of the Barbados Electronic Single Window (BESW), said that the Freundel Stuart government, through the Barbados Competitiveness Programme (BCP), had taken steps to reinvigorate the Commission on Competitiveness and to establish a supporting Technical Unit.
He said this was done in an effort to urgently address erosions in this island’s international business and trade related rankings.
“The Commission on Competitiveness will be established under the umbrella of the Social Partnership and will be chaired by the Prime Minister. Its primary role will be to serve as the main articulator of private-public dialogue on Barbados’ competitiveness. The Technical Unit or Department of Competitiveness will function, among others, as the Secretariat to the Commission.
“In this capacity, it will facilitate any technical research or study arising from the deliberations of the Commission; provide technical advice to the Commission regarding matters that are generally pertinent to competitiveness; and implement and monitor Barbados’ National Competitiveness Strategy and Action Plan, another deliverable from the BCP,” Sinckler said.
Sinckler said that as a country heavily dependent on international trade, with over three billion dollars (One Barbados dollar =US$0.50 cents) spent on imports since 2010 for domestic consumption and production, Barbados must commit to simplifying and streamlining existing regulations, behaviours and practices that impact business and trade facilitation.
He told his audience that at present, the BESW was more than 90 per cent complete. He pointed out that there were some additional forms that needed to be integrated into the system and added that the full integration should be completed by the end of March, 2017.
He noted that the anticipated benefits from creating a single window environment could be seen from the perspectives of government and the private sector.
He said government was expected to gain from an improved e-government and e-governance infrastructure; an enhanced collection of taxes, duties and penalties; higher levels of efficiency and transparency and reduced incidence of corruption, among others.
In the case of the private sector, he added, the benefits would include faster clearance of goods; improved transparency in the operations of regulatory agencies; spending less time travelling between government regulatory agencies to fulfil their trade-related obligations; and improved ability to classify goods and satisfy regulatory filings.
Sinckler said that resources were being mobilised to ensure that the BESW would communicate effectively with the recently implemented Customs software, ASYCUDA World.
“ASYCUDA World will be able to send information to the BESW regarding new and cancelled declarations by traders. Similarly, the BESW will be able to send information to ASYCUDA World regarding new licence applications, approvals, updates and revocations. Such conveniences should go a long way towards promoting inter-agency collaborations involving Customs and government regulatory agencies,” he insisted.
Sinckler said that although the expected benefits of the BESW were encouraging, it would be unrealistic to expect immediate results simply from the implementation of technology-driven reform.
He pointed out that the pace at which benefits evolved was normally influenced by other factors, including the existence of other complementary reforms; change management and leadership; degree of user-receptivity; and supporting institutional infrastructure.
An electronic single window is an environment that facilitates the electronic submission of standardised international trade and transport-related documents to a single point for processing and approval.
The BESW will provide a single online interface for the exchange of trade-related documents between the trading community and relevant government agencies. Within this environment, all transacting parties will be able to fulfil their obligations online from anywhere, using any form of internet-enabled communication device.