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GRA trains customs officers on tariff implementation

Dec 12, 2014, 10:26 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Thirty customs officers of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) are on intensive training in awareness creation on the Common External Tariff (CET), ahead of commencement of its implementation in January 2015.

The training session was organised under the auspices of the GRA, and funded by the European Union and German government. It is being implemented by GIZ.

The training course was held to sensitize the officers on CET, whose implementation process is expected to commence in 2015 across ECOWAS member states.

Speaking at the training venue, at the authority’s head office in Banjul, Alieu Ceesay, GRA Deputy Commissioner Technical Services, said The Gambia was set to join the rest of ECOWAS countries in implementing the CET, effective January 2015.

The implementation is expected to bring along many benefits, such as increased market access, investment flows, reduction in production costs, increased economic growth and employment, lower smuggling, reduced political tension across the border, increased trade inflows in the medium to long term, and increased efficiency and competiveness in the industrial sector, he added.

Ceesay said the CET is meant to harmonise the heritage of member states within the region to bring about more improvement in the economies of member states to improve the lives of their citizens.

In view of this fact, he continued, GRA deemed it important at this time, before the actual implementation in January 2015, to sensitize both customs officers and the business community on the CET.

Mr Ceesay further challenged the participants to take the training course seriously, “as customs is the lifeblood of all economies in our region.”

“We are the front-runner in terms of regional integration in mobilising revenue,” he said, adding that customs officers should take advantage of the training exercise.

Kelech Okoro, Tariff coordinator of GIZ consultants on the Common External Tariff (CET) implementation of ECOWAS, explained that GIZ is an agency under the ECOWAS commission implementing these structures.

He said the purpose of coming to The Gambia was to give support ahead of the implementation process of the ECOWAS CET.

Two years ago, the customs administrations of 15 member states of ECOWAS and ECOWAS Commission came together to discuss the modalities in implementing the CET by January 2015.

Joseph Findin Njie, customs manager, Tariff and classification, who also doubles as the national focal point for the implementation of the CET External Tariff, thanked the EU and German government for funding the training exercise to enhance delivery of customs services.

According to Mr Njie, implementation of the CET in the country might also pose some challenges that would affect GRAin its goal of maximising revenue mobilization, as it would eliminate the little advantage the country has over other-regional countries in terms of the low import tariffs.

Thus, the government and the GRA must develop some coping strategies to mitigate the effects of the CET implementation, he said.