DOMA President, Gregory Aboud, from left eZone CEO Paul Pantin, AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie, TSL Chairman Nick Galt, DHL Country Manager Andrea Davis talks to media personnel at AMCHAM press conference held at their office on Maraval Road, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Joel Julien

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A blood sample was shipped into this country that needed to be taken to a laboratory urgently for testing.

However, because of the current delays being experienced to clear shipped items, that sample will most likely go bad.

The time frame for the clearance of items is now six days on average.

Previously items were cleared the same day.

This is an example of the “chaos” currently being faced in this country for persons trying to ship in items, Andrea Davis the country manager for DHL said yesterday.

But the situation is not only affecting individuals but also small and large businesses and even embassies.

Davis was among several of this country’s chambers, business associations and logistics companies that came together yesterday to call on the government to immediately rescind the system currently in place to clear items shipped into this country as they say it is “extremely debilitating”.

Davis said DHL does roughly around 700 shipments daily and 90 per cent of them are currently being bonded.

DHL is one of several courier companies operating here.

“When you have somebody who is going into surgery for a stent and that stent comes in and that stent is US$100 and the man cannot have that surgery on a Thursday and the specialist flies out or they have no other operating time the next week what happens then?” eZone CEO Paul Pantin said.

Pantin said the delays could be costing US$50,000 a day.

“Far from facilitating legitimate trade what is happening now is frustrating legitimate trade and it must be reversed if the country, which is trying to get out of a recession, is to have a chance to do so by allowing business to do what business needs to do,” chief executive officer of the American Chamber of Industry and Commerce Nirad Tewarie said yesterday.

Yesterday’s meeting was held at AMCHAM’s head office on Maraval Road in Port-of-Spain and included representatives from the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association, the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association among others.

Tewarie said in 2011 the then minister of finance in a budget statement recognising the inefficiency at the airport and ease of doing business and recognising the growth of the logistics industry packages under $20,000 for commercial and individual use would not require bonding.

In 2018 Customs and Excise said because there was no change in the law this practice was not legal and needed to be fixed.

As a result Customs started implementing new measures to deal with this situation.

“It is causing a significant disruption in business operations,” Tewarie said.

Tewarie said a big part of customs mandate is to facilitate legitimate trade and not just to collect revenue and support the borders.

“What we would like to see happen now is an immediate reversion to the old system, and we are willing to work with customs to implement the new system in an efficient manner. That’s Option A. Option B which to us is more desirable because it is just makes more sense is that we revert to the old system immediately and the government changes the law to allow for the items valued at less than $20,000 to come in as they were previously,” he said.

Tewarie said this was the first time under his tenure as AMCHAM CEO the groups came together in this manner.

“This is not our style, we do not like doing things like this. We believe in dialogue and collaboration to find solutions but the situation facing us at the airport and by us I mean the business community in particular but it is starting to spill over to affect individuals now is increasingly severe at a time when we cannot afford it,” he said.

Aboud said the situation currently facing the county with the shipping in of items is “worse than the coronavirus”.

“I would like to say that probably the most respectful way I can refer to this is as a wild, mad stunt, and the reason I can say that with some sense of confidence about the characterisation of this as a stunt is that this has actually been done with zero interaction or consideration for the destruction of confidence and the roadblock that it creates,” Aboud said.

TTMA Director Dale Parsons, FedEx Operations Manager Shameel Mandol and FedEx Country Manager Stephen DeFreitas also attended yesterday’s meeting.

T&T Cham­ber CEO Gabriel Faria was unable to attend yesterday’s meeting but sent a message voicing his support.