A NEW port technology platform will help to improve this country's trading across borders, said Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon.
"This is a mammoth project."
She was speaking at a media conference on Tuesday at her ministry, Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain.
She said Government is committed to improving the ease of doing Business in this country and to raising our standing on the World Bank’s Doing Business Report where overall TT is ranked 105th out of 190 economies, with the 2020 ranking the same as 2019. She pointed that a particular focus area is "trading across borders" where TT is ranked 134th out of 190 economies.
Gopee-Scoon said one of the initiatives to improve this area is the implementation of a Port Community System (PCS) which Cabinet approved this month. She explained a PCS is a neutral and open electronic platform that optimises, manages, and automates port and logistics processes through the single submission of data. She said it is aimed at modernising the port and logistics framework in the country and its implementation will be done by the Trade Ministry in close collaboration with the Finance Ministry and Works Ministry.
She reported the ministry has already contracted an international PCS expert who undertook consultations with key stakeholders in December 2019. The consultant has prepared a terms of reference for the PCS which is currently being reviewed by stakeholders.
Gopee-Scoon said the beneficiaries of the PCS will be the various public (Customs and Excise, Port Authority, Immigration Division, Maritime Services, Port Health Unit, TT Coast Guard and various inspection agencies) and private sector agencies (importers and exporters, freight forwarders, customs brokers, warehousing companies, shipping lines, haulers and private port operators) involved in the logistics supply chain. She said the system has been implemented in Antwerp, Belgium, Hamburg, Germany, Valencia, Spain, Barcelona, Spain, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Jamaica.
She reported the benefits to the country included: positioning TT as a more attractive place to do business; facilitating the development of an integrated port transport solution for freight forwarders, exporters/importers, shipping lines and trucking companies; encouraging the better use of limited space at the port and the local road network thereby improving productivity of these infrastructure assets and reducing congestion; and allowing for greater traceability of goods from entry into TT to the place of final delivery. One of the benefit to a user would be that the time to market would be reduced through services that handle booking, scheduling, tracking, and documentation.
She explained the estimated cost of the system is estimated US $3 million and funds are available under the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Strengthening of the Single Electronic Window for Trade and Business Facilitation Programme. She said after the tender documents are finalised the ministry will commence procurement for a vendor to design and implement the PCS.
Gopee-Scoon said the other initiatives to improve trading across borders was the Business Process Re engineering (BPR) for agencies and the Integrated Risk Management System (IRMS).
She reported in 2019 the ministry completed the BPR for 19 agencies involved in trade and business facilitation. She said recommendations for process improvement were documented in a BPR Master plan and shared with stakeholders. The Masterplan was accepted by Cabinet and the ministry is currently engaging these agencies to implement the recommendations.
She further reported that in in 2019 Cabinet agreed to implement an IRMS at the Customs and Excise Division of the Finance Ministry. The IRMS is aimed at reducing the number of inspections carried out by the division by applying modern, risk-based technology in the identification of cargo for inspection. This will in turn reduce the transaction time and cost for the clearance of cargo. She said the ministry is currently working alongside the division to implement the system.