NRA Set to Celebrate World Customs Day Jan 26th
The Customs and Excise Department, one of the operational departments of the National Revenue Authority is poised to join over 160 countries to celebrate this year’s International Customs Day, an event slated for the 26th of January every year. This is according to Abu Bakarr Finnoh, Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Excise Department of the National Revenue. He made this disclosure over the weekend.
Online investigation (http://www.wcoomd.org/home_about_us_auhistory.htm) conducted by this writer indicates that the history of the WCO began in 1947 ‘when the thirteen European Governments represented in the Committee for European Economic Co-operation agreed to set up a Study Group. This group, according to investigations, ‘examined the possibility of establishing one or more inter-European Customs Unions based on the principles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)’.
The theme for this year’s celebration, according to AB Finnoh is ‘‘Knowledge, a catalyst for Customs excellence’’. According to the Customs Deputy Boss, the theme will provide the NRA in general and the Customs and Excise Department in particular with an opportunity to consider their policies dealing with administration and promote their initiatives in strengthening competencies and at the same time, try to encourage research.
He said, as a department, Customs and Excise is fully of the belief, that knowledge has the potentials in helping them succeed and become a leading government agency and also in providing them (CED) with the skills and tools needed to more effectively protect society and ensure cross border trade…’’ The contribution of Customs to national development, Finnoh said is crucial and as such knowledge which is a vehicle for Customs excellence will enable them increase on their critical contribution to national development.
As a department, he said, they have ensured several trainings for their workforce and stakeholders and also referred to the Automated System for Customs Data as one of several ways aimed at using knowledge to ensure Customs excellence. Through increased use of knowledge ‘‘we can achieve excellence in our performance…’’ Finnoh said.
Speaking further, the Deputy Commissioner said, Customs and Excise Department is not only charged with the responsibility to collect revenue on behalf of government but at the same time, to ensure national security and this, he said is done by preventing the importation of prohibited goods into the country among other measures. He said, these and many other functions could be met by Customs Officials when they have the required knowledge for maximum output.
Established in 1952, the World Customs Organization has continued to play a vital role in stimulating the growth of legal international trade and in also combating fraudulent activities. The World Customs Organization has a mission of enhancing the protection of society and to also facilitate international trade. Over the years, the WCO has continued to promote the emergence of honest and transparent customs environment, thus contributing to the economic well-being of member states, to which Sierra Leone is no exception.
Meanwhile, indications are that the Board, Management and staff of the NRA in general and Customs in particular are set to ensure, knowledge is used as a catalyst for customs excellence. Knowledge will be sued to protect the environment and at the same time, ensure our borders are protected, as key to the functions of the Customs and Excise Department of the National Revenue Authority. The celebration for this year will attract stakeholders in the operations of Customs, including importers, clearing and Forwarding Agents, among others.
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