Officials: Port single window to improve the ease of doing business in St. Lucia (+video)

By For the National Competitiveness and Productivity Unit

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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 St. Lucia will receive from implementing such as 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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2 comments

  1. Did anyone ask why this project was shelved in 2009? This product being proposed as a “Port Single Window” promises to be the panacea for the constraints at the port of entry and doing business procedures. I therefore wonder why is it that Jamaica (http://cabinet.gov.jm/project/trade-facilitation-single-window/), even after having this Port Community System, is still building another solution to do exactly what is being proposed here for Saint Lucia. Currently, Customs has ASYCUDA and SLASPA has its own Port Management system. The two systems have been interfacing with each other since 2007 where cargo manifest is only submitted once via ASYCUDA which then sends it to SLASPA electronically. The same interface could also send Customs Releases to SLASPA as exist in Grenada, Dominica and Jamaica. The Customs ASYCUDA also provides the possibility for traders to apply for import/export licence and permits from the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade (I have used it myself!).
    So I asked at the beginning, why was this project shelved in 2009, it’s because the government of the day realized that they had already invested tax payers’ dollars in setting up infrastructure with the implementation of ASYCUDA World and a Port Management software at SLASPA. The government should therefore not repeat the Jamaica mistake with this so called “Port Single Window”. Doing so will only increase the cost of doing business as it will introduce an additional recurring cost to the relatively high cost of doing business at the border. Those of us who have been paying attention may recall that in 2008 we were ranking 34 among 190 world economies (https://tradingeconomics.com/st-lucia/ease-of-doing-business) in the world doing business index and today we are somewhere in the 90s, albeit this is because of many other inefficient regulatory agencies. No wonder why the government never pursued this option because there was already a promising enabling environment which we failed to build on. I am a Customs broker/shipping agent who have been paying close attention to what is happening in the region and I have noticed that Jamaica and Grenada has surpassed all the other countries who began using ASYCUDA years ago. Jamaicans are able to pay customs taxes online and now they are looking to extend the ASYCUDA World functionalities to provide a complete trade single window that will include all Border Control Agencies. It is my understanding that this will be at no additional cost to the traders. So why are we increasing cost to our traders and consumers???
    I implore Suzette Lewis-Jean and the cabinet of ministers to exercise due diligence before committing Saint Lucians to a higher cost of living. They should instead look to introduce the enabling legislation for paperless transactions and enforce standard operational procedures at the various border control agencies such that processes can be streamlined and simplified by leveraging existing and improved ICTs.

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  2. All I can say is, Hallelujah! Bring it on.

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