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As World Customs Day observed…

NRA vows to strengthen border reforms

January 28, 2015  By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

As Sierra Leone joins the world to celebrate World Customs Day, the National Revenue Authority (NRA) has vowed to strengthen border customs posts to generate more revenue across the country.

While delivering a speech on behalf of the Commissioner-General of NRA, Corporate Affairs Manager, Mohamed Bangura, said World Customs Day is celebrated across the world to share ideas and proffer possible areas of intervention for revenue mobilization, noting that this year’s celebration is dedicated to the Ebola outbreak.

Bangura opined that the celebration would foster a coordinated approach in border control by both domestic and international agencies, adding that the goal was seeking greater efficiencies over managing trade and travel flows while at the same time maintaining a balance with compliance requirements.

He further noted that the Commissioner-General was strongly focused on reforms, challenges and result-oriented strategy for 2015 with a multiplicity of partners.

“NRA launched the modernization programme in September 2007 to work with stakeholders to implement border reforms which will ensure greater trade facilitation, safety and security of the supply chain in a coordinated fashion. The construction of the one border post at Gbalamuya in the Kambia District does not only bring together all border agencies of the Republic of Sierra Leone but also the Republic of Guinea under the same roof,” the Corporate Affairs manager said.

He added that the result of implementing the aforementioned reforms could lead to significant revenue collection because over the last four years, beginning 2011, they collected Le283.3 billion; Le339.7bn in 2012; Le489.9bn in 2013; and Le487.7 in 2014. He said the figures show a steady progression in revenue collection except in 2014 when there was a reduction, compared to 2013, due to the Ebola outbreak in the country.

Giving a brief history about World Customs Day, Assistant Commissioner for Customs and Excise Department, Abubakarr Kamara, said that in 1947, 13 governments – represented by the Committee for European Economic Co-operation – established a study group to examine the possibility of establishing one or more Customs Union among various European Union countries.

He revealed that in 1948 the study group decided to establish two committees which later evolved into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Customs Committee, which subsequently became known as the Customs Cooperation Council.

Assistant Commissioner for Anti-Smuggling Unit, Saidu Kamara Labay, said the country’s borders are porous while many are not manned by customs, immigration and security personnel.

“The sovereignty of the state depends on secured and well managed borders. Improving border management policy and practice is one of the key areas we have highlighted for reforms. We need strong interventions to enhance regional security,” he concluded.

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