Thursday, February 9

ACCFA Threatens Clearing Agencies Found Wanting With Expulsion

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By Mustapha Jallow

Essa Wally, the president of the Association for Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents (ACCFA), on Wednesday 21st December 2022, said that any of their members found wanting for dubious activities, will be expelled from the association.

“We will immediately expel your agency from the list of Clearing and Forwarding Agents. We need to exercise discipline and professionalism in the performance of our job, especially with the introduction of the ASYCUDA World, which is web-based. This requires proper knowledge and understanding in the declaration and documentation of our work,’’ he said.

Wally made these strong remarks at a conference hall in Bakau, during the association’s annual general meeting. The long-day session brought together government officials, members of clearing and forwarding agents, representatives from The Gambia Chamber of Commerce, Industry (GCCI) and Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC).  

Wally noted the importance of equipping members with required skills in order to operate the ASYCUDA-World; adding that the trainings accorded to them were not adequate.

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Notwithstanding, he said the experience of  some of the clearing agents helped members to adjust to the system so quickly.

Wally said they are still pursuing the shipping lines on the charges. Even though, he said the Trade Ministry has written them to stop the charging on the LPHC and THC, saying they are yet to see it done by any of the shipping lines.

“We also call on the government to refuse any excuses or explanation as a reason why they cannot remove it from their charges,’’ he appealed.

This year, he added: “We have registered 127 clearing and forwarding agents. We have also created over 1,000 employment opportunities, which are widely diverse in terms of origin, culture and background. It is priority to advance on all the fronts of the association’s culture, which are fundamental to our success.’’

Speaking on behalf of GRA’s Commissioner General, Ismaila Jallow, the Commissioner of Customs for GRA, described the AGMs as a sign of “good governance’’, which provides members and stakeholders, the platform to discuss entity and financial performances.

Jallow told clearing agents that once their members understand what facilitate trade, it will be easier for their institutions and customs in any country they faced.

“We have been looking at trade facilitation; some of your members have worked with us on the Time Release Studies (TRS) and understand the time it takes to clear any goods from any customs area for the consumption of the general populace. This way, it will help agents to know that any container that reached  GPA, should be out within 2-3 days,’’ he explained.

Jallow further encouraged the association executive to advise their members to be professional in whatever they are doing, adding that professionalism is based on having a good knowledge of what you are doing.

“If you believe that you are a clearing agent, you are supposed to understand the customs laws, regulations and the articles provided by the WTO because you are supporting people from the WTO. Agents should also understand the instrument, including the international agreements signed by our Ministers of Trade and Finance as well as the tools available for you to use,’ said Jallow.

Ousman Jobarteh, the Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), also encouraged clearing agents to be more collaborative in their approach while urging them to be more aware about policies and procedures involved in the international supply chain.

“You know things are changing every day. Do not only look at our country as we are in a global village. So, be more attentive to what goes around you and our doors are always open for collaboration as it always exists,” he advised. 

According to Jobarteh, action is being taken on some of the concerns raised by the clearing agents. However, he said some of these concerns need follow-ups to make sure they are addressed.

“We are all committed to making sure that the cost of doing business is reduced, and at the end of the day, when people go to the market to buy food stuff, they can find it cheaper to feed their families,’’ Jobarteh explained.

Meanwhile, Jobarteh disclosed that the Africa Development and World Banks provided some grant funding, which he described as a milestonew in the port development to the tune of $20, 000, 000.00 (twenty million dollars), in order to invest in a component that’s ancillary. He said if any country wants to drive maximum value from the infrastructure the related components must be addressed.

“And this includes the Bund-Road access, ferry terminal and trade facilitation as well as capacity building,’’ he said.

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