Less time to clear containers by month end
...just 24 hours, Vasant promises
By the end of October, the time it takes to clear a container through the country's ports will be reduced from 19 days to just 24 hours, providing there are no further security issues.
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath gave this assurance yesterday at a post-budget discussion hosted by First Citizens Investment Services at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad), Port of Spain.
"It takes an average of 14-19 days to clear a container either for imports and exports; it is less than five days in many other countries. One of the biggest bugbears is we have two parallel systems operating and they don't speak to each other: the Single Electronic Window operated by the Ministry of Trade and the ASYCUDA system operated by Customs and Excise. So, you have a number of duplications (and bureaucracy) that gives Trinidad and Tobago a customs burden rank of 132 out of 144 on the Global Economic Index," Bharath said.
Bharath said he was lucky that in his capacity as Trade Minister and Minister in the Ministry of Finance he was able to call a meeting between the two parties and streamline operations.
"Having had discussion with both Customs and Excise and the Trade Ministry, I now have a commitment that both systems will be integrated, which will mean for people looking to do business in Trinidad and Tobago, we would have reduced the time it takes to clear a container from 19 days to 24 hours, providing of course there are no security issues," he said, adding that to facilitate security, he was looking to source more scanners for the ports.
Bharath added that a note had also been taken to Cabinet to move the Chemical, Food and Drugs Division from the Ministry of Health to the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards to make one standard-setting body and remove approval confusion.