The Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), Axel M. Addy, said in spite of the updated system put in place for collecting government revenue, in adequate support to build the capacity of customs officers, and limited customs infrastructure at the various borders, Liberia is still losing millions in lawful revenue earnings.
Speaking yesterday at the World Customs Organization Day program held at the Monrovia City Hall, Minister Addy said there is more trade taking place across the borders.
The celebration was held under the theme, “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management,” which was witnessed by officials from the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
African Development Bank (ADB), and Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
“These limitations impact dramatically the cause of trade to entrepreneurs across the borders, and therefore, impact the price of commodities on the Liberian market, particularly evaluations,” he said.
Minister Addy said the movement of goods and services within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is inadequately documented. According to him, these challenges can be harmful to Small
Medium and Entrepreneurs (SME), especially women trading across the borders and operating on a very small scale.
“Everyone has their role in improving the business environment that encourages traders to use the formal port of entry for trade rather than taking all the risks associated with using informal port of entry that put their lives and property as risk,” Minister Addy said.
He said using the modernized system that is efficient and the customs that are fully empowered can lead to greater formal trade that allowed Liberia to evaluate and document such trade to develop adequately and improve the system.
This, he said, will provide adequate trade statistics for the private sector operators and investors, stating that Liberians have witnessed transformation.
“We see trade flow increase dramatically and see a nation in transformation. We have been working on the soft infrastructure to improve the business climate,” he said.
As a transforming nation, he said, building a vibrant private sector is critical if we are to continue to create opportunity for the people of Liberia and enable them to pursue their dreams and realize their fullest potential.
He further noted that access to information and the utilization of information is critical to informing policies and business decisions.
The World Customs Organization (WCO), for which Liberia serves as a member, continues to invest in harmonizing the trade regime so that we are able to trade more efficiently across the world, Minister Addy said.
“I want to recognize the hard work of the LRA team for the continuing process to harmonize commodities description and coding process in 2012,” Minister Addy said.
He lauded customs personnel for controlling the millions of trade transactions and people that come across the various borders each year, adding that “Your patriotic commitment continues help in transforming Liberia for a better Liberia.
Elfrieda S. Tamba, Commissioner General of Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), said LRA’s vision is to be a professional institution, adhering to international standards and the source of revenue collections as well as service delivery.
She said the LRA also intends to be more professional, fair, transparent, and effective in ensuring that they collect lawful revenue and facilitate legitimate trade and social protection for the people of Liberia.
She added that the LRA has rolled out a five-year strategic plan from 2016 to 2021, with four broad goals.
International Customs Day is held on January 26, every year to commemorate the day in 1953, when the inaugural session of the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) was held in Brussels, Belgium.
In 1994 the CCC was renamed World Customs Organization (WCO) and today customs organizations from 179 countries, including Liberia, are WCO members.
Usually on this day, member organizations highlight and talk about issues that focus on the year’s theme and challenges that the Customs Department is faced with.
The WCO has dedicated 2017 to promoting data analysis, risk Management being one of the key elements of its modernization plan.
The objective of this celebration is to create awareness among stakeholders on specific customs management programs or project that enhances international trade.