The CEO of the Port of Port of Spain is rubbishing claims by an Opposition MP about port operations and their alleged impact on the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago.
On Sunday, Mayaro MP Rushton Paray, the Opposition’s spokesman on trade and industry, alleged that the state of the Port Authority and Customs and Excise was yet another reason why the Government was unable to attract international investments.
Although delays were reported by both Customs and Excise and port officials at a joint select committee meeting on Friday, in a statement on Monday, acting CEO Robert Ramsubhag said they did not “experience any delays or backlog in delivering containerised cargo to the business community and the general public.”
To the JSC on Friday, he admitted that there was a backlog at the shed 10 barrel shop, where the public was served, but said some 70-100 customers were being served daily, and overtime hours reduced the backlog.
In his statement, Ramsubhag said the port continued to deliver containerised cargo once the consignee has received appropriate clearance from the Customs and Excise Division and other relevant agencies.
“Same-day clearance is also available,” he said, and the port, on average, delivered over 181 import containers per day to the business community.
“The Port acknowledged that delays were experienced in the delivery of barrels at the shed 10 barrel shop.
“The shed 10 barrel shop delivers mainly personal cargo to the general public. Deliveries to the general public were impacted by the requirement to implement covid19 protocols (there) to keep the public, Port Authority staff and the Customs and Excise staff safe and to reduce the risk of spread of the virus.”
The statement also said there were extended opening hours on weekdays and Saturdays to facilitate added demands.
But he admitted that this was hampered by a shortage of Customs and Excise officers to dod inspections.
"The Comptroller of Customs and Excise stated that the Customs and Excise Division is currently staffed at 60 per cent, hence the reason additional extended opening hours could not be facilitated.”
Ramsubhag said the authority remained committed to continuously improving its performance and to working with all agencies to further enhance the ease of doing business in TT.