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Sunday, July 25, 2021

GRA pushes accession to Kyoto Convention

By Omar Bah

The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) has intensified efforts to secure Gambia’s accession to the International Convention on the simplification and harmonization of customs procedures.

The Gambia ratified the Convention in 1974 almost a year of its coming into force. But the West African country is among few nations yet to accede to the 2006 revised Kyoto Convention.

The tax authority has instituted a taskforce consisting of the Office of the President, ministries of Trade, Justice, Finance and Foreign Affairs and the National Assembly. The high-profile taskforce will guide and facilitate the country’s accession to the Kyoto Convention.

The Kyoto Convention is the blueprint for modern and efficient customs procedures in the 21st century.

The Convention focuses on transparency and predictability of customs actions; standardization and simplification of the goods declaration and supporting documents; simplified procedures for authorized persons; maximum use of information technology; minimum necessary customs control to ensure compliance with regulations.

The revised Kyoto Convention also promotes trade facilitation and effective controls through its legal provisions that detail the application of simple yet efficient procedures.

It also contains new and obligatory rules for its application, which all contracting parties must accept without reservation. The revised Kyoto Convention entered into force on February 3, 2006.

Stepdown workshop

As part of efforts to expedite the country’s accession to Kyoto Convention, GRA organised a stepdown workshop for its senior officials to assist them analyse the country’s customs laws compared to other countries around the world.

The workshop also gives participants the opportunity to answer questions prepared by the World Customs Officers (WCO) relating to gaps in operations.

The GRA commissioner general, Yankuba Darboe said: “The purpose of organising this workshop is to take stock of the progress that has been made in our bid to complete The Gambia’s accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention as well as designing the roadmap for the completion of the accession process”.

“However, since the entry into force of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) in 2006, The Gambia remains one of the few countries yet to ratify the Convention despite the numerous benefits that can be derived from ratifying the Convention. The WCO did not shy away from reminding us about this fact any time we attend meetings at the WCO headquarters in Brussels,” he said.

The GRA management, he added, is determined to end this undesirable state of affair.

“In a bid to speed up the accession process, we set up a Steering Committee in 2019 to kick start the accession process. Since its setting up, the RKC Committee has engaged the relevant stakeholders in the process and together designed a roadmap for the process,” he added.

“Acceding to the RKC will no doubt improve and enhance trade facilitation; provide international trade with predictability and efficiency that it requires and it will lay a solid foundation for reforming and strengthening our Customs legislations and standardising them with WCO best practice,” CG Darboe said.

He extolled Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for funding the workshop.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support, the administration of other regulatory regimes including the national minimum wage and the issuance of national insurance numbers.

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