The commissioner general of The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) has said that his authority has intensified surveillance across all the border posts to ensure the protection of our borders from illicit trade, international terrorism, the protection of the environment and ensure trade facilitation among others.

Yankuba Darboe made this statement while delivering his welcome speech at the opening of the ECO-ECA expert meeting at Coco Ocean starting from 20th to 22nd November 2017.

Speaking at the meeting, Darboe said the decision to host this meeting in The Gambia was in recognition of the significant achievements that the government of The Gambia has realised in building institutional capacities towards the attainment of its developmental objectives.

He stressed that the important areas that require the attention of customs administration include protecting our borders from illicit trade, international terrorism, the protection of the environment and ensure trade facilitation among others.

“To tackle these problems confronting us today require the strong support of our governments and people, adoption and coordination of appropriate strategies at both national, sub-regional and global levels,” he said. “Recognising the need to address the critical customs administration challenges, The Gambia Revenue Authority with the support of government and our development partners have put in place programmes and strategies aimed at capacity building in the custom’s automated system from ASYCUDA++ to ASYCUDA World.”

This project, he said, started in 2016 when GRA, Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs and African Development Bank contracted UNCTAD to install and implement ASYCUDA World.  He added that the actual implementation is expected to start January 2019.

Currently, he noted, custom’s department is using ASYCUDA ++ at its headquarters, seaport andall the provincial stations including Banjul InternationalAirport.

In the area of human resource development, he said that the authority has a designated training facility with a training manager appointed to coordinate all training activities of the institution.

“The HR reforms and modernisation undertaken by the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) since July 2013 under the auspices of the WCO-WACAM Project, has proven very critical and beneficial to the growth and development of the staff and the realization of the corporate objectives of the Authority.”

“In line with the corporate vision and mission statements, the authority had developed and approved the Recruitment Policy and Procedures, Competency Framework & Dictionary, Job Catalogue & Competency-based Job Descriptions, Schemes of Services, Training Policy& Strategy, Staff Posting Policy & Procedures.”

The GRA, he said, continues to boost its international cooperation with the sub-regional customs administrations and WCO, adding that The Gambia’s position as a haven of peace and prosperity in the sub-region cannot be over-emphasised.

“As we continue to embrace our brothers and sisters who turn to us for security and safety, we must not lose sight of the danger of circulation of small arms and illicit weapons,” Darboe reminded.

He added: “In this regard, the effort to secure duties and taxes that are due and payable, we should ensure that legitimate trade thrives without unnecessary impediments, we must also ensure adequate surveillance to prevent any potential threats to the security of our people and safety of international trade supply chain.”

For his part,Anusuman Touray, deputy permanent secretary Ministry of Finance Economic Affairs said customs services throughout the world are central to the systems and processes that dictate the movement of goods and people across borders.

To enable them to work in an environment free from resistance and delay, he declared thatthey need to co-operate to provide a seamless, fair and transparent service that enhances the economic, social and security aspects of global trade whilst retaining effective customs controls in line with their responsibility to ‘collect and protect’.

The Gambia, he said, like most countries in the supply chain is vulnerable at all three points of entry to smugglers, illegal entrants, terrorists and international criminals.

He also went on to recognise the critical role played by the international customs and trade organisations in ensuring a fair and equitable operation of customs procedures and processes.

According to him, The Gambia unlike many countries is a tax based economy, with tax revenues accounting for more than 70% of total government receipts.

Author: Abdoulie Nyockeh