The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) on Friday, October 5 certificated 61 Customs Brokers, following three weeks of training and online testing and evaluation in customs brokerage and professional operational standards, a release has said.
The 61 completed the requisite requirements for qualification including competency based training, testing and licensing.
Customs brokers are private individuals, partnerships or associations licensed to assist importers and exporters in meeting requirements governing imports and exports. They act as professional agents for an importer or exporter, prepare and submit all documents for clearing goods through customs.
The licensing of the Customs Brokers, the second batch under the LRA, was done in keeping with Section 6.0 A (iii) of the Customs Brokers Revenue Administrative Regulation, which mandates the LRA, through the Office of Professional Responsibility Section, to administer Customs Brokers Competency Licensing Examination as a standard for practicing custom brokerage.
It can be recalled that less than a year ago, in December 2017, the National Customs Brokers Association of Liberia (NCBAL) took issue with the LRA over which of them had the authority to certificate customs brokers. Both the NCBAL and the LRA are institutions created each by an act of Legislature.
Section 3:4 of the NCBAL act gives the association the right “to organize, conduct, administer and evaluate candidates or applicants wishing to engage in and practice brokerage activities in order to standardize the profession. It shall administer tests to all persons or applicants wishing to practice brokerage activities and to be members of the association and also submit who be qualified individuals to the Minister of Finance for professional licensing.”
However, the LRA, which received autonomy from the Ministry of Finance, carried with it the functions of the Liberia Bureau of Customs and Excise.
Further, Section 1500 of Liberia Revenue Code authorizes the promulgation of regulations for “the licensing as customs brokers of persons of good moral character, and of corporations, associations and partnership’ including requiring ‘as a condition to the granting of any license, the showing of such facts as…may be deemed advisable as to the qualifications of the applicant to render valuable service to importers and exporters.”
According to LRA Communications Director, D. Kaihenneh Sengbeh, the Revenue Authority “is working under the doctrine of peaceful co-existence, which means we are prepared to work with anybody, be it the NCBAL or individual customs brokers.”
LRA Commissioner General Thomas Doe Nah, challenged the licensed customs brokers to exercise a high level of integrity and professionalism in their work.
“As we certificate and license you today, I am asking you to place integrity in the discharge of your duties with the public and the LRA,” Mr. Nah advised the brokers. He noted that customs brokers are core partners of the LRA and as such they must play a pivotal role in helping the Authority to execute its mandate of revenue collection.
He then urged the customs brokers to be open-minded and give feedback to the LRA about issues hindering their operations. He also noted that the LRA remains committed to forging a new relationship with customs brokers, based on integrity and valuable customer relations.
The LRA Assistant Commissioner of Customs Operations William Buku, encouraged customs brokers to abide by all regulations governing their activities. He wants brokers to add value to their work by acquiring new technology skills to enable them to file their documents on the LRA digital platforms.
Earlier, LRA Professional Responsibility Section Officer-In-Charge, James Y. Gayflor, admonished the newly licensed brokers to work within the confines of the regulations at all times.
A representative of the newly certificated customs brokers, Kansualism Berk Kansuah, expressed gratitude to the LRA for the training.
Kansuah also called for a continuous partnership with the agency as well as assured the LRA of their commitment to uphold integrity in the performance of their work.