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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Finance Minister says gov’t committed to be transparent with public resources

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs has reaffirmed the government’s commitment and desire to ensure transparency and accountability in its dealings with public resources.

Speaking at the launching of the Gambia Revenue Authority’s long-awaited digitalisation system ASYCUDA World, Minister Seedy Keita said the introduction of the system is “a great milestone in the government’s efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in customs clearance processes”.

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“It also demonstrates the commitment of our government under the able leadership of President Adama Barrow to promote transparency and efficient public service delivery,” Minister Keita added.

The president and the entire government, he added, are committed to digitalisation to enhance transparency and service delivery.

“The ASYCUDA World system would digitalise the entire custom clearing processes thus eliminating the need for human interventions,” he added.

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He said the implementation of this new system has the potential to enhance transparency, trust and facilitate trade, enhance administrative efficiency and improve the quality of our international trade data.

“It will also assess our government drive to enhance performance of revenue mobilisation. It will also speed up the process of doing business in the Gambia which is essential for us to realise our dream of becoming competitive and a favourable direct investment. With the introduction of the EFTA and its potential to improve inter-African trade, the ministries of trade and finance aims to position the Gambia to gain envisage under the EFTA,” Minister Keita added. He said the full operationalisation of the ASYCUDA World digital system will also improve the authority’s revenue collection and ensure transparency.

“I hope that the end users of the system will appreciate and embrace it for all the benefits that come with it. I know change is difficult because we are comfortable with the status quo but where there is a will there’s a way,” he added.

Minister Keita, who could not hide his admiration for the GRA boss’s leadership, commended the entire management of the authority for a wonderful job in the realisation of the ASYCUDA World system.

The Commissioner General of the GRA, Yankuba Darboe said the ASYCUDA World will improve and strengthen the integrity of the GRA. He said the authority will ensure a smooth transition process from the ASYCUDA++ version to the ASYCUDA World version.

On why GRA decided to upgrade from the ASYCUDA++ to ASYCUDA World, Commissioner Darboe said: “Aside from the very many challenges posed by the ASYCUDA++ version being an analog system while the ASYCUDA World version is an integrated customs management system that is capable of interfacing with other systems especially new technologies. This is the reason why so many customs administrations around the world have transitioned to the ASYCUDA World.”

CG Darboe expressed gratitude to the African Development Bank for funding the project and UNCTAD for providing the technical support in configuring and setting up the system.

The ASYCUDA World is expected to boost revenue collection, improve procedures in customs administration, facilitate trade by shortening the turnaround time and clearance of goods, promote inter-agency, national and regional cooperation and support the provisions of trade statistics for decision making. 

The GRA also inaugurated its new Revenue House Annex built to house the authority’s deputy commissioner general and Enterprise Risk and Modernisation Department. The D22 million three-storey building funded through GRA’s subvention will accommodate more than 45 staff as well as house the Board Room.  The GRA boss said the authority is committed to build more storey buildings in their various office complexes across the country.

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