By Carlena Knight
As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, officials at the Antigua Port Authority are expressing hope that the Christmas season will boost their revenue projections going into the new year.
According to Port Manager Darwin Telemaque, there has been some improvement to date when compared to the past two years dealing with the pandemic.
He said it is the hope that if Covid-19 infections around the globe dip, the volume of business at the port will increase.
“We are seeing slight, not great, but slight improvement from 2020 in terms of volume. There are further challenges that we have, however, when it is all said and done it may be breaking even between the two years,” he explained.
“I don’t think that we are going to speak or can [speak] of a very buoyant, strong, productive environment. We could definitely say that in 2018, 2019, but since last year and now this year, we had to crawl ourselves out of some very dark holes and we are hoping that 2022 speaks to a very, very different environment, and we are looking forward as the pandemic eases and as the economy opens, to see more volumes come through the port,” Telemaque said.
The port is one of the country’s biggest revenue earners but for the past two years has been crippled by the pandemic.
Supervisor of the Antigua and Barbuda Customs and Excise Division, Denise O’Donoghue, said with the Christmas season in full swing and with the new measures they have implemented at the Deep Water Harbour, it is the hope that revenue increases.
“Well, it is kind of difficult to project but we are hopeful that it will pick up. The pandemic barrel is ongoing, goods have been coming in throughout the year and we love to see when it comes to Christmas time, people buy a lot so, it is hopeful. We are keeping hope alive and we are prepared to deal with the crowd,” O’Donoghue said.
Last month, officials at the Antigua Port Authority and the Customs and Excise Division streamlined operations to create a ‘one stop shop’ for residents clearing barrels and other items at the facility, reducing the time it takes to complete a transaction.
With the support of the government and China, the agencies retrofitted a section of a disused warehouse to house the Tariff Section to collect payments, along with Customs, port cashiers and other workers tasked with collecting monies on behalf of the authority.
The move means residents no longer need to leave the warehouse to travel to different offices to complete their transactions.