T&T merchants say new system slowing down Customs

(Trinidad Express) Port of Spain merchants are complaining that a new Customs system is causing congestion and delays in the clearing of goods at the port in the capital city.

The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association yesterday described the implementation of the Customs system as “too risky and dangerous to attempt…on the eve of the heaviest season of import and export traffic”.

The “most serious culprit” in the Customs approval process of documents related to the importation of goods has been the introduction of a new TT$40 user fee, DOMA said, adding that there was an inability of the cashier system to cope with the collection of the fee at the Port of Port of Spain.

DOMA said it was not a port-related problem but an issue with the slowness in approvals of Customs documents.

The net effect of the implementation of the new system has gone “terribly wrong” with reports yesterday that certain shipping lines ordered their vessels to bypass Trinidad and that some lines declared Trinidad to be under port congestion and suspended delivery of non-perishable containers, DOMA said in a statement.

Describing it as a “near-crisis situation” the merchants suggested the immediate introduction of a pre-paid $40 user certificate which can be purchased by importers and exporters in multiples and in advance, among other recommendations.

DOMA said, within another day, it might be forced to join with the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association in recommending that the user fee and information input be suspended until after Christmas.


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