Aug 6, 2008, 7:04 AM
three-day bilateral annual customs experts meeting between officials of the
Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Senegalese Customs Administration opened
yesterday at the Coco Ocean Hotel.
This was the 8th bilateral annual meeting between the two administrations, with the Senegalese delegation led by the Director General of the Senegalese Customs Administration.
The high-level meeting, hosted by GRA, was graced by the Minister of Trade.
In his welcome remarks, the Commissioner General of GRA, Yankuba Darboe, said the Gambia Customs and Excise Department was amalgamated with the Domestic Tax Department by an Act of the National Assembly in 2004, to create the Gambia Revenue Authority.
The Gambia government took this initiative to enhance and make revenue mobilisation more efficient and effective.
The GRA commissioner general added that the amalgamation had brought “more efficiency to customs procedures and processes”, especially the facilitation of international and cross-border trade, which forms part of the agenda being discussed during the meeting.
Mr Darboe recalled that the last bilateral meeting was held between the two administrations in 2010, and the “inadequacy of proper consultation” since then had resulted in the evolution of certain operational challenges that affect cross-border trade and international transit between the two countries.
“Being able to organise this meeting on the scheduled dates, as recommended in the joint communiqué, is a clear testimony of our commitment to strengthen the long bilateral ties that exist between the two administrations,” he stated.
Darboe urged the experts to work together, and put in place good recommendations that could be implemented to facilitate both transit and cross-border trade, as enshrined in the ECOWAS protocol on the free movement of goods and persons.
Mr Darboe also recalled that during the 7th bilateral meeting, it was recommended that the two administrations should adopt an MoU for mutual administrative assistance on transit and other customs procedures.
He informed the gathering that GRA has reviewed the draft MoU that was proposed by the administration, and had suggested additional points to the document in the area of border cooperation, which would form part of the discussions towards finalising the MoU.
He thanked President Yahya Jammeh for creating an enabling environment for the meeting to take place.
“We are also grateful to our line ministries and the organising committee, and all those who contributed to the successful hosting of this event for their immense support.”
Also speaking at the opening of the meeting was the Director General of Customs Administration of Senegal, Ousman Gueye, who said it was their collective responsibility to safeguard and maintain this privileged relations for the betterment of the people of Senegambia.
He said the objective of the gathering was to examine the ways and means to facilitate the movement of people and goods, as well as abiding with the judicial systems of each state and the ECOWAS protocols.
“We should, therefore, consider the implementation of creative tools for a joint management of our borders in order to safeguard our income, especially to secure the international supply chain in order to combat effectively organised crime,” Gueye said.
Lamin Camara permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance reminded the gathering of the importance of the forum to the two governments.
He thanked the two administrations for organising the forum, and encouraged the participants to take the consultative meeting seriously for the benefit of the two countries.
Also speaking was Alieu Jarboh, GRA board member, who said the meeting has provided huge opportunities for good relations, not only to the sister customs administrations, but to the two countries and their common people.“As a board, we are committed to working with management, government and other stakeholders to improve systems and processes to make GRA a model regional institution, while supporting and encouraging healthy bilateral and regional relationships,” he said.