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NRA boss jets in, as Sierra Leone accedes Revised Kyoto and Harmonised Systems Conventions

June 17, 2015 By Ann Marie Dumbuya

Commissioner-General of the National Revenue Authority, Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara, is returning home after depositing documents of ratification or accession of the Revised Kyoto and Harmonised Systems Conventions to the Secretary General of the World Customs Organisations (WCO) in Brussels, Belgium. Madam Kallah-Kamra was attending a World Customs Conference with a three-man delegation including the Customs DFID Adviser, former Commissioner-General of the Zambian Revenue Authority, Christicles Mwansa.

Addressing delegates, the Commissioner-General said that the two instruments would form the basis of NRA’s tax reforms and modernization programme. She stated that government’s decision to accede to the two conventions was part of post-Ebola recovery plans outlined by President Koroma in his quest to make the country donor-free and boost foreign investment and trade.

The Revised KYOTO Convention is a legal instrument of the WCO that aims to simplify and harmonise customs procedures worldwide.Byratifying these two documents, the country and NRA in particular stand to benefit in a number of ways. Firstly, the WCO could secure funding for the establishment of a modern laboratory to aid product classification. Secondly, the NRA would be eligible for participating in the harmonized system committee meetings and can thus influence decision-making protecting the country’s trade and financial interest with regards product classification. Thirdly, it reinforces the Authority’s commitment of embracing international best practices for the modernization, harmonisation and simplification of Customs Procedures. Most importantly, the WCO would support the implementation of measures that would reduce trade cost, facilitate trade and maximize revenue collection.

As a blueprint for modern, efficient and effective Customs Procedures, many of the principles of the revised KYOTO Convention include computerized & electronic data interface Customs systems, Customs risk management systems and pre-arrival information systems; all of which are necessary to improve trade facilitation.

It could be recalled that the NRA has been forging ahead with a modernization programme funded by DFID. The main thrust of this programme has been streamlining business processes for better service delivery. With regards Customs administration, the Authority has adopted modern information technologies to improve service delivery and trade facilitation. One such technology is the WCO developed Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).

In the advancement of Customs modernization, trade facilitation and border controls have become the main focus for NRA Customs as the Authority shifts attention to improving doing business experience in the country. Nowadays, facilitating the free movement of persons and goods across the country’s frontiers with particular emphasis on turnaround time and client experience is the hub of NRA Customs. As such, the NRA has since established specialized units within the Customs and Excise Department such as Valuation for the assessment of imports based on transaction value; Risk Management for profiling businesses and brokers to achieve targeted controls; Post Clearance Audit to verify declarations and Harmonised Systems & Rules of Origin to ensure that commodities descriptions and applicable rates are adhere to.

In addition, the import clearance process has been revised to reduce clearance time; the publication this month of compulsory documentary requirements for Customs clearance processing is also part of measures taken by the NRA to simplify the Customs clearance process.

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