On Thursday 11th August, the European Union and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) officially launched a project for Long Term Technical Assistance to the Customs Department at a local resort in Monrovia, according to an LRA press release yesterday.
The EU funded project, which has a value of €2.1 million (approximately US$2.3 million), will continue until October 2018.
The project will facilitate Liberia’s international and regional trade, generate customs revenue and improve the accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of customs in Liberia. Capacity to tackle smuggling and fraud will be enhanced and the project will support Liberia’s compliance with WTO obligations and the objectives of the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreement with West Africa.
Building on previous support from the European Union for the Customs Department under the then-Ministry of Finance, the current project aims to achieve increased revenue collection nationally, including the establishment of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ and pilot upgrade of selected key border posts and reduce smuggling and fraud through strengthened capacity for anti-smuggling, intelligence and investigation and enforcement. The project is also expected attain increased efficiency and enhanced trade facilitation, including reduced average clearance times, through strengthened capacity for management control and for consistent application of laws, regulations and procedures, in particular promotion of voluntary compliance and post clearance audit operations.
The Customs Department of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) will be in charge of implementation, supported by four long-term international Customs experts, and several short-term experts. This includes Peter Bennett (Team Leader), Brian Glancy and Bill Eliasson, all of whom were present at the event.
Peter Bennett gave a presentation at the launch event outlining the key aspects that will be covered by the project and introducing the Key Expert team. He set out the three main components of the project: Support to the Customs Department Headquarters; Support to the Compliance and Enforcement
Division; and Support to Rural and Urban ports, including the development of a Centre of Excellence at the Freeport of Monrovia.
At the event, Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority, Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, thanked the EU and its taxpayers for their timely support towards the transformation of Customs Administration in Liberia, which includes a Centre of Excellence at the Customs One Stop Shop at the Freeport and the resulting positive impact on doing business.
She is looking forward to the successful implementation of the project, which is critical to improving Liberia’s Doing Business, WCO (World Customs Organisation) and other international rankings.
European Union Chargé d’Affaires, Mrs. Emma Sundblad, said “The European Union is contributing more than two million dollars to the creation of a Customs Centre of Excellence and the fight against smuggling, because we believe that this will generate much-needed revenue for the Government of Liberia.
At the same time, more efficient Customs procedures will make it easier for Liberian and international businesses to trade with each other and to invest in Liberia. We hope that the hands-on approach of the experts will help their Liberian colleagues to put things into practice.”
The event was attended by officials of the Government of Liberia, representatives of the private sector, as well as members of the diplomatic corps and donor partners, many of which are actively supporting the LRA.