Clearing agents advised against involving in dubious activities

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The President of the Association for Customs Clearing & Forwarding Agents (ACCFA) has advised those in the business to avoid involving in dubious activities while rendering service. Essa Wally warned that tough legal and disciplinary actions would be taken against anyone found wanting.

This, he added, could include expulsion of their agencies from the list of clearing and forwarding agents.

“So, we need to exercise discipline and professionalism in the performance of our job. Especially with the introduction of the ASYCUDA World. This is a web-based system that is capable of detecting and exposing malpractices and it requires proper knowledge and understanding to be able to properly make a declaration and documentation of our work,” Wally told clearing agents at the association’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

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The AGM brought together government officials, members of clearing & forwarding agents, representatives of GCCI and GGCCPC. 

Speaking further, Mr Wally said rigorous training is required for clearing agents to be able to operate the ASYCUDA-World.

Turning to the challenges the association faced, Mr Wally added: “We are still pursuing the shipping lines on the charges because even though the trade ministry has written to them to stop charging us on the LPHC and THC, we are yet to see it done by any of the shipping lines”.

“We are also calling on the government to refuse any excuses or explanation put forward as a reason by the shipping lines as to why they cannot remove the charges,” he said.

Commenting on the progress of the association, Wally said this year alone they have registered 127 clearing & forwarding agents.

“We have also created over 1000 employment, from diverse origins, culture and background. It is a priority to advance on all the fronts of the association’s culture – which are fundamental to our success,” he stated.

Addressing the meeting on behalf of the GRA Commissioner General, Ismaila Jallow, the Commissioner of Customs, described AGMs as a sign of “good governance” which provides memberships and stakeholders a platform to discuss their entities and financial performances.

Jallow informed the clearing agents that once they understand what would facilitate trade – it would become easier between their institutions and customs.

“Some of your memberships have worked with us on the Time Release Studies (TRS) to understand the time it takes to clear any goods from any customs area for the consumption of the general public. This will help you to know that if you have a container inside the GPA, it should be out within 2 or 3 days,” he explained.

He 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 they are doing.

“If you believe that you are a clearing agent; you are supposed to understand the customs laws, regulations and the articles that are provided by the WTO because you are supporting people from the WTO. And also understand the instrument; those are the international agreements that have been signed by our ministers of trade and finance as well as the tools available for you to use,” he added.

Ousman Jobarteh, the Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) also encouraged the clearing agents to be more collaborative in their approach and endeavour to know the policies and procedures both at home and the international supply chain.

Jobarteh disclosed that the Africa Development and World banks have pledged $20, 000, 000 million grants investment ancillary to the GPA Ports expansion.