On February 15, 2017, the Honourable Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, officially launched the Barbados Electronic Single Window. The journey to the electronic single window dates back to October 2010, when the Government of Barbados embarked on an ambitious project entitled “The Barbados Competitiveness Programme” or BCP. This project, valued at US$11.8 million, was jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The BCP was designed to improve Barbados’ competitiveness by addressing key bottlenecks that affect efficiency of the movement of goods in Barbados; and to support other trade and investment promotion activities to promote export development and increase private investment.
The electronic single window operates in an environment that facilitates the electronic submission of standardised international trade and transport-related documents to a single point for processing and approval.
In this regard, the Barbados Electronic Single Window (BESW) provides 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. Duplication of entry will be eliminated, as entries need only to be submitted once.
The single submission of documents to the BESW is facilitated by a built-in Trade Document Management System (TDMS). The Barbados TDMS will track, manage and store the digital version of all paper-based documents that were previously submitted manually by traders. The system will therefore function as a repository for more than 190 different forms, certificates and licences, which traders expect to eventually retrieve from the electronic single window (ESW).
Expected results include a move towards a paperless trading environment, reduced duplication, shorter application and processing times, and a lower incidence of human error. At present the BESW is more than 90% complete – there are some additional forms that need to be integrated into the system. However, 100% of the system’s basic functionalities are completed. The full integration of remaining forms should be completed by the end of March 2017.
So what are the expected benefits of the Barbados Electronic Single Window? Who stands to gain?
The anticipated benefits from creating a single window environment may be seen from two perspectives – government and the private sector (non-government). Government is expected to gain from:
• an improved e-government and e-governance infrastructure;
• enhanced collection of taxes, duties and penalties;
• higher levels of efficiency and transparency;
• increased conformity to regulations, including international trade treaties, and improvements in regulatory enforcement;
• improved relations with the private-sector community;
• reduced incidence of corruption; and
• more accurate and timely trade-related statistics.
Similarly, the private or non-government sector should benefit from:
• enhanced levels of predictability;
• faster clearance of goods.
• improved transparency in the operations of regulatory agencies;
• less time spent travelling between government regulatory agencies to fulfil their trade-related obligations;
• lower trade-related transaction costs, including demurrage; and
• improved ability to classify goods and satisfy regulatory filings.
Presently, resources are being mobilised to ensure that the BESW will communicate effectively with the recently implemented Customs software, ASYCUDA World. This communication will be operationalised through eight interfaces, which, in essence, allows both systems to send to, and pull information from, each other regarding the issue and status of documents submitted by traders.
The future appears exciting! I must remind those of you who haven’t yet registered with the BESW to do so as soon as possible. The sooner the system is used, the quicker any bugs or problems encountered by traders can be detected and fixed. You may visit https://esw.gov.bb to complete your registration.