Fri, 04/22/2016 - 12:00am Barbados
Barbados Electronic Single Window to be introduced
BY next year, the tedious task of going to multiple offices, filling out numerous forms and standing in long lines will be a thing of the past for exporters and importers in Barbados, who will soon be able to submit their information online in a new paperless environment.
These processes will be streamlined through the implementation of the Barbados Electronic Single Window, an initiative of the Barbados Competitiveness Programme (BCP). The ESW began in June 2015 and is expected to be completed by January 2017.
Yesterday, Project Co-ordinator for the BCP, Terry Bascombe, gave the media an update at the organisation’s Pine Road headquarters and explained that this initiative which costs around US$6 million in total, is just part of the overall plan to address competitiveness concerns in Barbados.
Bascombe stated that an Electronic Single Window is an environment that facilitates the electronic submission of standardised international trade and transport-related documents to a single point. The single online interface for exchange of trade-related documents between the trading community and relevant government agencies will also cut down on duplication.
Other benefits to be derived include an improved e-government and e-governance structure; higher levels of efficiency and transparency; greater revenue collection; improve relations with the private community; more accurate and timely trade-related statistics and improvements in trade facilitation and trade logistics.
Bascombe while outlining how paper usage will be reduced, explained that at present, the number of all import and export related paper documents total in excess of 190. Additionally, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation issues more than 9 000 certificates of origin per year and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs issues in excess of 12 000 import licences per year.
The Barbados ESW is being implemented by US Based A-T Solutions. US-based consulting firm Bixal Solutions Inc., has developed a Trade Document Management System (TDMS) which goes hand-in-hand with the ESW. It will manage, and store inside the ESW, the digital version of all paper-based documents. “Together, it is expected that these systems will pave the way for a paradigm shift from a paper-filled to a paperless trading environment”.
He revealed that since the start of the programme, all the paper produced by Barbados government agencies have been electronically converted. “Ultimately, making these forms electronic eliminates the need for the physical distribution of over 30 000 trade related licences permits and certificates, this will generate significant cost savings to the private and public sectors,” he said.
The project co-ordinator revealed that the ESW involves more than 30 stakeholders from public, private and representative trade unions all of whom will undergo training. He noted that training is ongoing and the relevant equipment needed for the various agencies should be on the island within four weeks. He conceded that there have been some challenges in bringing all these bodies together, but it was not expected since it is a new process.
For those who do not have access to a computer or the Internet, Bascombe said there are plans to allow for public access to computers in kiosks which will be placed in strategic locations yet to be determined.
Officials from the technical team told the media that all the information submitted by a user is encrypted and persons will also be able to track their documents. They explain that the ESW is extremely user-friendly and even guides the user through the application process.
The Programme Implementation Unit of the Barbados Competitiveness Programme, is in the process of rolling out its public awareness plan for the ESW.