DOMA wants backlog at ports dealt with swiftly

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DOMA wants backlog at ports dealt with swiftly

The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) is calling for a swift resolution to the growing backlog of packages and good and at the nation’s ports.

In a statement, DOMA described the situation as “damaging to the economy” and which penalises “legitimate business and consumers in a drastic way”.

DOMA noted that it may require a re-think of a failed policy that has led to the courier bond being “slow and inefficient, all year long”.

“The situation being described is, in our estimation, not related to an increase in seasonal packages or online shopping but the result of a policy of inspection and charges on all packages introduced in 2020. A package that takes 4 days by courier from Japan can take up to 5 days from Piarco to POS,” DOMA argues in its statement.

“This inefficiency is having a very negative impact on the business community, including small businesses which rely on the Courier bond because they do not have the volumes necessary to use air freight or ocean freight,” DOMA said, noting that the Ministry of Trade and Industry should get involved in solving the issue.

“We wish to appeal to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade to take bold action to rescue the economy, the business community and the public at large from this debacle.”

According to DOMA, at the heart of the problem is the “examination of every single package including worthless items and documents that come into the country. Charges are applied on almost all packages, which have no value including minor items…”

DOMA is advising the authorities to consider emulating their Caribbean neighbours, who dealt with a similar conundrum in the past.

“A similar scheme of examining and applying charges to every package was tried in other Caribbean islands. The same inefficient backlog occurred, and in representation to the various governments the policy was reversed,” the business lobby noted. “In the case of Barbados , their Chamber of Commerce met with their Prime Minister for 30 minutes and one week later, the system of charges on 100% of packages was dismantled.”

DOMA is recommending that all packages be scanned, and that a minimum value threshold be set for courier packages that can be allowed through the system.

“This will give the Customs and Excise Division more time to properly assess other packages on which value can be obtained and reduce the delays that are damaging the T&T economy,” DOMA said.