Roberts: New Customs system creating ‘bottleneck’ for importers

Roberts: New Customs system creating ‘bottleneck’ for importers
Super Value Owner Rupert Roberts

Super Value losing $5 out of every $100 sold due to theft

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Super Value’s owner Rupert Roberts said yesterday the new Customs Click 2 Clear system has created a ‘bottleneck’ for importers, telling Eyewitness News Online, “imports have come to a standstill”.

“We could stock our stores 10 times a week, we never have a challenge keeping the stores stocked,” Roberts said.

“We have had a challenge with the new duty entry system. All the merchandise is piling up on the dock and they can’t get the entries through, and it’s been a bottleneck and it’s still a bottleneck.

“I warned the deputy prime minister when this started, I said let’s postpone that until after Christmas. Don’t boggle up merchant’s Christmas stock let’ let them get the stocks in have a good Christmas and let’s put this in, in January when business is slow. And no, they went ahead with it and there has been a  lot of problems.”

Roberts added: “I said to the DPM myself, look the system is bogged down. Imports have come to a standstill. We still have our groceries on the dock form last week. We have 10 perishables containers in (Wednesday) and we have ten more (yesterday). There’s no place for the shipping company to put them. The customers are going to the supermarkets on the weekend and find empty stores and so that’s been the problem.”

Roberts said he lost some $20 million across five stores in Abaco due to Hurricane Dorian.

The Category 5 storm ripped through Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1-3.

Roberts said his food store chain did not have a problem meeting increased demands in New Providence; however, losses from theft have skyrocketed.

“But no, normally there would be no problem. We keep a six to eight million warehouse inventory, even for emergencies for the country, in case of emergency.

He continued: “Last year our stock shortages were, of course in the millions, but it was $1.2 million, and since Hurricane Dorian its jumped up to $5.1 million. So we’re losing $5.10 out of every 100 dollars we sell.

“And I expect it to get worse before it gets better, and we are so vigilant with security cameras and everything else.”

Customs officials announced the progress of The Bahamas Single Electronic Window, now branded The Bahamas Customs Click2Clear initiative, in August.

The initiative is intended to significantly reduce revenue leakage and encourage a greater level of compliance.

As of October 1, 2019, the Customs Legacy System, commonly referred to as Ecas was no longer the primary system used for Customs processing.

The Arawak Cay-based container port handles 80 percent of imported physical goods cargo coming into The Bahamas.