Friday, November 5, 2010

Lawmaker Reiterates Observance of ECOWAS Protocol

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) Members of the  National Assembly has called on the Finance Minister Momodou S. Foon and the Commissioner General Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to work closely in ensuring the free movement of people, goods and services within countries around our borders and beyond.

The Member for Upper Fulladu West, Momodou M. Jallow said it is worth to have free movement of goods and service and people to the country, but was quick to say that there is
the need to take good measures.

He stressed that they need to put necessary mechanisms to safeguard the country from trouble and nurture the peace and tranquility. “People coming in and out are different and  have with deferent intentions, this is why we need to protect our country from any unwanted behavior,” he said.

Mr. Jallow was contributing to the debate on the Customs and Excise Bill 2010 tabled before lawmakers for enactment on Monday 12th April 2010 at the National  Assembly Building  in Banjul.

Putting the Bill before parliament, the Minister of Finance and Economy Affairs, Mr. Momodou S. Foon said that the Bill seeks to bring about a new dispensation in customs
administration thereby repealing the existing Customs Act of 1990 (Cap.86: 02);
the Education Films (Exemption from Duty) Act (Cap.86:03); the folded Woven Goods
Act (Cap.86:04); the Importation of Textiles Act (Cap.86:05); and the Excise
Act (Cap.86:06).

Henceforth, he said all customs duties, excise duties, tariffs and regulations shall be governed under a single piece of legislation.

Mr. Foon also noted that the Bill seeks to carry the collection of duties simple, equitable, fair and transparent, with a view to improving voluntary compliance;
domesticate all the Conventions, Treaties and Protocols that The Gambia has
signed and or ratified under the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Customs Organisation

Such instruments includes the Convention establishing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that was signed on 28th May 1075, as revised, which inter-alia
brought into being the common External Tariff (CET) on 1st January 2000; the
Convention relating to Inter-State Road Transit of Goods (ISRT) and the
Supplementary Convention establishing a Community Guarantee Mechanism for ISRT
which were signed on 29th May 1982 and 29th May 1990 respectively.

“Others include the Protocol relating to the External Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) signed in June 1989 and launched on 1st January 1990; the World Trade Organisation
Agreements on Customs Value (WTO-ACV) signed in Marrakesh in 1994 relating to
the implementation of Article VII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT); the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Convention on the Harmonisation
System on Tariff Coding and Classification of Goods (the HS Code) signed on
14th June 1983 and revised on 24th June 1986; and the WCO Convention on the
Simplification and Harmonisation of Customs Procedures (the Kyoto Protocol). “

The Finance Minister also told lawmakers that the Customs and Excise Bill seeks to formalize the role of the Commissioner General and the accounting officer for
the Customs and Excise Act by virtue of Section 9 of The Gambia Revenue
Authority (GRA) Act No.13 of 2004 and allow him delegate the day-to-day running
of the Customs and Excise Department under powers vested in him by Section 10
of the GRA Act (Part II Section 3).

He asserted that bill will provide for the use of Information Technology for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) between the trade and Customs using a common language as
promulgated under the United Nations Directories for Electronic Data
interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (UN/EDIFACT) using the
Automated System on Customs Data (ASYCUDA++) and further simplify, speed-up Customs
processes and reduce the cost of transacting business.

He also argued that it will enable taxpayers to carry out advance Customs declarations and pay correct duties and taxes on a self-assessment basis, based on authentic
original invoices, while adding that it will provide a legal framework for the
promotion of manufacturing for export (e.g. manufacturing under the United
States of America Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA 2000) management of export processing zones, duty
free shops and the administration of excise manufacturing thereby collecting
optimum tax from this source.

The bill is also aimed at providing for the licensing, use of Customs transit, bonded warehouse and inland ports operated by the private sector to facilitate trade and enable the
business community to benefit from economies of scale in importation and reduce
congestion in the port area.

“To provide for a transparent, predictable, auditable duty exemption, remission regime to privilege institutions, personnel and the administration thereof,” the Finance
Minister outlined. Vol:2 Issn:166

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