A week-long training for customs authorities in Anglophone West African states began in Monrovia Monday, with the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, pledging to raise the country’s customs systems to meet modern standards.
“Customs has today moved away from the traditional gatekeeper concept to an approach which meets the increasing demands of growing trade facilitation,” said Commissioner Tamba during the opening ceremonies of the World Customs Organization (WCO) – West African Customs Administrations Modernization (WACAM) Project.
The LRA Commissioner further emphasized that customs operations today require the implementation of proper border procedures, the operations of border processes and setting the appropriate balance between border control and trade facilitation.
“The LRA is fully committed to this process,” she assured participants at the Regional Workshop on Strategic Management.
Underscoring the importance of the workshop, she declared that strategic management cannot be ignored in 21st Century customs, general revenue administration and business management, anywhere in the world.
WCO representative Philip Wood said the project intends to work with a number of customs authorities in Africa to strengthen their capacities.
Strengthening the capacities of these authorities is not about developing new plans but rather in building capacities that lead to developing excellent strategic plans aimed at meeting the requirements of the 21st Century and the WCO’s trade facilitation operations, among others, he said.
The head of the Gambian delegation, Yankuba Darboe, and that country’s Revenue Authority Commissioner General, described the workshop as an opportunity for customs authorities to share their experiences in order to make improvements in their respective countries.
He underscored the significance of strategic planning, stating, “Without a proper strategic plan, the organization cannot move (in any) direction.”
Funded by the Swedish Development Agency, the WCO and WACAM Project seeks to strengthen customs organizations to perform up to global standards.