Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New Initiative To Facilitate Ease Of Doing Business

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Press Release:-  Government is seeking to simplify the administrative processes and procedures in reference to goods entering and leaving the country.

In 2009 Cabinet gave permission for the establishment of a Port Community Single Window to increase St. Lucia’s competitiveness in regards to the trading of goods.

In a thrust to improve St. Lucia’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking, the government of St. Lucia has focused on trade facilitation of domestic and commercial goods in and out of the island’s ports.

Government is seeking to implement what is termed a Port Community Single Window to electronically harmonize and standardize information relating to the clearing of goods.

Trade Facilitation Officer, Suzette Lewis-Jean explained how this system will significantly improve the ease of doing business in St. Lucia.

“What it’s going to do, it’s going to make trading easier.  And if we would like to be competitive on the global market we really have to make trading within our borders a lot easier for investors.  So for example you have customs with the ASYCUDA system, SLASPA has its own and here are a lot of others, you have the truckers, the shippers.  What we are hoping to do get all the agencies together under a single umbrella or a single window as we will call it. So when a trader uploads his manifest he does it once. So there would be no reason to go to Customs and back to SLASPA, then go to Agriculture all these different agencies you only upload these things once and it goes through the system until a decision has been made on your input.”

She stated that the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation agreement makes it mandatory for all its members to establish a single window.

Developing countries like St. Lucia stand to benefit from this trade facilitation agreement of which the single window is a major component.

“So, we must do it so that we can become attractive to investors and make it easier for all of us in fact who are trading within our borders.”

Sabin Bajazet is the Communication and External Affairs manager for Seba in Guadeloupe. Seba is a private company charged with managing the Port Community Single Window in Guadeloupe for the past 15 years. She said the port single window facilitates all the logistics and trade facilitation processes in a completely paperless system.

“First of all it’s not an IT programme, it’s not an IT project. IT is part of it. It’s really how we do business, how we are declaring our goods. How we’re doing importation, exportation, transshipment, so the way of doing the process will actually be optimized through the system.”

She noted that the value added St. Lucia will receive from implementing such a system far outweights the initial setup cost.

However the modality for the operationalization and running of the Port Community Single Window is yet to be decided upon by government.

“We have to put together a steering committee and then we are going to do an analysis and gather all the information that we need. Then a determination will be made as to whether it’s housed with government, whether a separate company is developed or setup to run it or whether we allow the private sector to run with it. So it’s a decision that will be made once we have all the information that is necessary.”

Jamaica and Guadeloupe have already established the Port Single Window within their territories.  The implementation of the Port Community Single Window is considered a priority on the Ease of Doing Business agenda for Saint Lucia.

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