Another milestone as NRA Customs & Excise Act receives presidential assent
The National Revenue Authority (NRA) has recorded another milestone in its modernization programme as the Customs and Excise Act received presidential assent for it to become law in November 2011. This Act which covered broad range issues within the governance process and the facilitation of trade throughout the country has been in the pipeline for some time now. Expounding on the Act at his Cline town office, the Officer in Charge of operations in the Customs and Excise Department, Mr. Sahid Conteh remarked that the act is all about tax administration, which he further noted is a professional job whereby the mandate is confined within the tax laws of the country of which Customs is one of the most powerful tax administrative bodies especially within the NRA. Over the years he said, the lunging for the modernization of Customs operations especially with the area which has to do with the legislative framework had been pursued. He emphasized that without such legislations, the Customs Department cannot be able to deliver to expectations and that there will also be no consistency. He stated that within modern Customs Services, there have been a lot of objectives which when put into the reforms on the legislation of customs, will lead to the maximization of the use of Internet. This he noted is critical because if the manual paperwork that hitherto exists is to be reduced then the use of E-Customs based operation which has to do with automation and interfacing globally or worldwide with Custom to Customs networks are in place. (Photo: Sahid Conteh, Officer in Charge operations, Customs and Excise)
He went on to state that the NRA wanted to ensure that there are laws that will help to integrate all the clearance processes and procedures. He also said that in as much as Customs operations borders around trade facilitation, its operations should be intelligence led, targeted risk management and focused based because not all containers or consignment that comes in can necessarily be examined based on certain factors as the clearance time needs to be improved on, improve the doing business climate and making the country very friendly business wise. He stressed that because of these Customs operations has to be heavily based on the risk target customs clearance procedure. He disclosed that it is as a result of this that the post clearance audits as well as the risk management and risk profiling system was instituted for all business entities that have a good record of compliance. The NRA he emphasized, also wants to comply with international best practices so as to improve on it public service delivery. By putting a proper control to these entirely he said, a law is needed, claiming that when the law is in place it will then be applied more consistently so that Tax Payers and Business people will know what it entails. He said to this end, a lot of sensitization will be done for tax payers and businesses to have a clear understanding and avoid becoming defaulters. He disclosed that the Customs Act that has been signed by the president to reflect, his department want to make it easily understandable so that anyone can read it and understand, that is why when it was redrafted a deliberate attempt was made to simplify the complexities of legal terminologies, and it was made very concise and clear. “We also want to make sure that it is transparent, very predictable and precisely sustainable” he remarked. He went on to disclose that the a simple consolidation of those laws which brought together the bits and pieces of CAP 271 of the Customs and Excise law, the sales tax law, etc was done to simplify the law to a simple law which is now known as the Customs and Excise Act of 2011.
By Abraham Karl Samura
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