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Trade Minister Bharath’s first task: Tackle gaps in Customs and Excise
The problem of bottlenecks at the Customs and Excise Division at the Port of Port-of-Spain is the first task newly-appointed Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath plans to address. Bharath was speaking on Wednesday—his first day on the job—at the launch of the Strategy for T&T: Exploring Opportunities in the Global IT Services Market, hosted by T&T Coalition of Service Industries (TTCSI). The launch took place at the Hyatt Trinidad Regency hotel, Port-of-Spain. Bharath said he’d listened to in-depth presentations on the Single Electronic Window (SEW), better known as the TTBizLink, at the Couva/Pt Lisas Chamber and Industry and Commerce’s breakfast meeting in Couva, on Wednesday.
He said while he recognised that SEW provides a platform for efficient trading arrangements and has cut down the time of doing business, there were gaps in the process. Bharath said systems must be integrated. “Each agency has its own information technology system. For ICT to be effective, it requires collaboration from all agencies, so I am hoping to speak with the Minister of Finance at the earliest possible time to resolve this issue we have with Customs and Excise.” “We need to concentrate on a few things that would impact on the lives of citizens and I believe that ICT and services sector are among those we must concentrate on if we have to succeed.” Bharath said the services sector contributes 46.7 per cent to T&T’s gross domestic product and is the fastest growing component in the global economy. “It accounts for two-thirds of global output, one-third of global employment and 20 per cent of world trade,” Bharath said. Recounting one of his main successes when he held the post of Minister of Agriculture up until the June 22 Cabinet reshuffle, Bharath said for about 40 years, the country was told that onions could not be grown in T&T. “Every time I hold an onion in my hand, it represents hope, a dream and the potential that T&T has.”
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