By Muhammad Bah
The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) on Wednesday, 26th November 2014, hosted the review of phase I of the West African Customs Administration modernization Project.
In his welcoming remarks on behalf of the GRA Board, Mr. Essa Jallow, the commissioner of domestic taxes, told participants from the regions, including a representative from Sweden, that the aim of the Banjul meeting was to review the achievements, lessons learned and for the way forward of the WCO-WACAM Project.
The GRA Commissioner of domestic taxes reminded participants that the Gambia hosted the regional HRM workshop for Anglophone countries in 2013 and that it was a success.
Mr. Jallow said the GRA HR Unit has been transformed into a forward looking, proactive and credible strategic partner. He thanked the government of Sweden for their assistance and the WCO-WACAM project coordinators.
In his opening statement, Mr. Abdoulie Jallow, the Permanent Secretary (PS) Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA), applauded WCO for making GRA the host of the project review and which, he added, benefits the country.
PS Jallow also thanked the government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the support they have given.
He said the GRA in a spate of 15 months has developed a HR strategy from 2014 to 2019.
The Finance and Economic Affairs PS called on the project directors, as well as the other participants, to put in place a mechanism which will help to consolidate the gains made and to ensure sustainability. Mr. Erich Kiech, WACAM Director of the Capacity Building Directorate, underscored the importance for regional governments to focus on custom administration capacity building.
The Capacity Building director cited the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting between the US President and the Indian Prime Minster in Geneva which, among other issues, focused on the international agreement on custom administration. He added that the Commissioner General of GRA was in Ghana for a high level meeting on custom administration.“We cannot do what our people expect us to do, if we don’t make up our capacity building in custom administrations,” he said.He told participants that because of the Ebola Virus the, other representatives could not come for the review but that they would be informed about the outcome accordingly. He concluded by thanking the GRA for hosting the meeting and the government of Sweden for funding it.