Saturday, September 30

GRA urges professionalism in clearing, forwarding business

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He made these remarks at a tax seminar for the importers, tax clearing & forwarding agents held at a local hotel in Kololi.

According to GRA officials, the seminar was meant to create a forum to engage with one of their most important stakeholders (importers and clearing agents). It also serves as a platform to discuss issues affecting international trade and prescribing workable solutions to the issues hindering international trade.

The discussions were tailored around issues relating to requirement for registration of clearing agents, documentations for clearing, classification of goods, accurate inputting of data into the ASYCUDA System, compliance challenges and planned reform initiatives.

The event was organised by the GRA and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“I want to appeal, because this is an opportunity to talk to you guys (agents). I want you to be serious with your work. I also want you to be professional in anything that you are doing in life. If you are not professional in it, then you have a big problem,’’ GRA boss advised clearing and forwarding agents.

He added: “You have to take your work seriously and respect the people that are involved in the international trade; where you do have lot of stakeholders such as Gambia Ports Authority, Maritime, including GRA and so on.’’

At the level of GRA, according to Darboe, gonearedays where they would see clearing agents who cannot read and write, saying it is high time for the clearing agencies to train their agents or recruit people who are professional and competent to do the job.

“This seminar is a demonstration of the high regard we have for importers and clearing agents. It is also an acknowledgement of the importance of the role of importers and clearing agents in our revenue mobilisation mandate,’’ he told the participants. 

With that, Darboe hoped that the seminar would yield the desired result of enhancing the knowledge and skills of importers and clearing agents to international best practice as it relates to the law, processes and procedures involved in clearing of goods.

Tijan Jeng, procurement specialist at UNDP Economic Management Project (Emp. Project), said the UNDP was proud to be associated with GRA partnership and initiatives of rolling out the awareness education to yet another important set of tax-payers.

“The Gambia continues to be a tax driven economy.Inthis regard, we continue to recognise GRA’s continued attainments in working towards achieving the increasing national revenue collection targets annually to finance the national budget,” said Jeng, who represented the UNDP resident coordinator.

“It is against this backdrop that the EMP is resolved in having GRA as a critical partner and will continue to provide the much needed support in fulfilling its mandates to maximise revenue collection.’’

“We cannot do this in the absence of knowledge.Therefore, this seminar has a direct link to our daily activities.” 

“The Association and I will participate fully to your expectation and will forever cherish the memories of this seminar,’’ says Essa Wally, President of Association of the Tax Clearing and Forwarding Agencies (ACCFA).

“When we unite the two we can shape the destiny of this country economically through GRA. It is essential for the personal fulfilment of each and every clearing & forwarding agent. Education determines whether we get a decent and rewarding job. And education empowers us to become commander of our destiny.’’

In her brief advice to the clearing agents, Lucy Faye Jagne, GRA board chairperson, described international trade as “very important, saying it is the life brain of the Gambian economic activities and resources.

She also acknowledged the important role that the agents are playing to ensure continuousrevenue boost, adding that more than 60% per cent of the revenue collected comes from importation and international trade, import and export activities. 

Mrs Jagne urged the clearing agents to be highly professional when dealing with their work, so that all stakeholders involved would be comfortable.