Mr. Sanea was accompanied by his technical advisor, Amadou Diop. The visit was facilitated by Bakutobo Sillah, a business executive with one Abdou Jeng of the Jiboroh Customs Post.
In his welcoming remarks, CG Darboe expressed profound appreciation for the visit which he said would go a long way in cementing ties and strengthening trade facilitation between the two countries. This is critical given the huge volume of trade that takes place between Banjul and Bissau. “Today’s meeting being the first of its kind between the two administrations is a welcome development in the context of regional integration and addressing challenges in the free movement of people and goods,” he said.
The visit was interspersed with a presentation by Yahya Manneh, director of Technical Services on the GRA model. The presentation delved into the history, structure strategic focus and mandate of the GRA. Unlike the Bissau experience, the GRA is a combination of Customs and Domestic Taxes as operational departments and six other support departments.
According to the presentation, GRA collection accounts for 60% of government revenue, which is a fundamental pillar in building a modern country.
Reacting to the model, Mr. Sanea expressed his satisfaction with the Gambian experience and immediately called for the two administrations to develop an MOU and start working on building a bilateral relationship.
To strengthen the call for the fulfilment of this demand, Mr. Darboe quickly proposed the setting up of a 12 man Technical Working Committee; six from each side. The Bissau DG also extended an invitation to the GRA CG and his team to visit Bissau as soon as possible with a return visit to Banjul following three months later. From this, the relevant stakeholders and players in the respective countries should be involved and informed immediately.
Essa Jallow, deputy commissioner general and head of Domestic Taxes used the opportunity to express his appreciation for the high profile visit. He further encouraged the meeting to also work on easing challenges in the cashew trade which currently faces serious challenges.
In his contribution, the Ag., commissioner of Customs also expressed similar sentiments. Commissioner General Darboe, encouraged the learning of best practices among our sister institutions and governments which he said is the best way forward for sustainable development. He also encouraged his counterpart to endeavour to earn political support from the Bissau authorities as a means of being able to sustain efforts in meeting the revenue targets set for him.