By Omar Bah
The country’s clearing and forwarding agents have called on the Gambia Revenue Authority to engage Gambia Ports Authority over its expensive tariffs and delays of goods.
The agents made this call during a tax seminar organized by the GRA to create a forum with importers and clearing agents, to discuss issues affecting international trade and prescribe workable solutions to issues hindering such trade.
The agents argued that the GPA tariffs are forcing number of businesses to export goods through Dakar to Banjul instead of direct to Banjul. This, the agents argued, is depriving the country millions of dalasis.
Responding to the queries, the GRA Commissioner General Yankuba Darboe assured that the tax authority will take up their concerns with the GPA. “We have taken note of your concerns and surely we are going to engage the relevant authorities to ensure that we look into the matter as quickly as possible,” CG Darboe assured.
Discussions during the seminar held at the Metz Hotel were centred on issues relating to requirements for the registration of clearing agents, proper documentation for the clearing and classification of goods, accurate inputting of data into the ASYCUDA system, compliance challenges and planned reform initiatives.
Commissioner General Darboe urged the clearing and forwarding agents to be professional in their work and conduct.
“I want to appeal to you because this is an opportunity to talk to you, agents of these agencies. I want you to be serious with your work and be professional in anything that you do in life,” he advised.
CG urged the agents to take their work seriously and respect the people they work with at all times. He said the GRA has made a matter of policy to ensure that all the authority’s agents are able to read and write.
“This seminar is a demonstration of the high regard GRA has for importers and clearing agents, and it is an acknowledgement of your importance in revenue mobilization. I hope that the seminar will yield the desired results of enhancing your knowledge and skills to be able to meet the international best practices as related to law, and processes and procedures involved in the clearing of goods,” he said.
A procurement specialist at UNDP’s Economic Management Project (Emp. Project), Tijan Jeng, said the UN body is proud to be associated with the GRA in such an important undertaking.
“The Gambian economy continues to be a tax-driven economy, and in this regard, we will continue to recognise the GRA’s continued attainments and efforts in working towards achieving the increasing national revenue collection targets annually, to finance the national budget,” he said.
The president of the Association of Clearing and Forwarding Agencies (ACCFA) Essa Wally said the knowledge sharing seminar could not have come at a better time because his men cannot operate in the absence of knowledge.
Lucy Faye Jagne, GRA’s board chairperson acknowledged the important role played by agents to ensure that revenue is boosted. “I hope that with the information shared here, the agents will be more equipped to fulfill their mandate effectively and efficiently,” she said.
Deputy Commissioner General, Essa Jallow expressed the tax authority’s unreserved appreciation towards the brilliant work the clearing and forwarding agents are doing. He urged them to be transparent and serve as good ambassadors of GRA at all times.
The event which was organised by the GRA and supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), was attended by senior GRA officers, a representative from the UNDP and importers and the president and agents of clearing and forwarding agencies.