A two-year EU-funded long-term technical assistance to the Liberia Revenue Custom staff came to an end yesterday July 24, 2018 at a well-attended event in Monrovia. The project was implemented by Ecorys, an international Development
The project was intended to facilitate international and regional trade; to increase revenue from customs operations and to enhance the contribution of customs to Liberia’s development and budget; and to improve accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of customs operations and management in Liberia among others.
According to Ecorys, during the two years period, a demonstrated success followed throughout the implementation period, with the project achieving the three results expected, and more than 100 outputs delivered under the three components.
Basically, the project had a significant impact on Components including ‘Support to Headquarters’, ‘Support to the Compliance and Enforcement Division’.
The Customs Modernisation Unit staff of a total of 349 enhanced their management capacity through training and capacity building and establishing.
Additionally, the project also developed and implemented an intelligence function to support risk assessment, Post Clearance Audit and anti-smuggling operations, support to the Urban and Rural Ports’, however, it laid the foundations for a Centre of Excellence, created a Central Assessment Unit, and provided extensive training.
Ecorys lead consultant Peter Bennett praised the overall progress of work which according to him is reflected in the revenue collection figures through the life of the project by $1 million per year, terming it as highly impressive in a context where other global trade has decreased.
He lauded LRA Commissioner General, Mrs. Elfrieda Tamba, and the Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Saa Saamoi, in providing excellent support throughout the project.
Also speaking, European Union Head of Section and acting Head of Cooperation Ioannis Tzartzas indicated that the EU’s contribution of more than two million dollars to support Customs is embedded in the importance of domestic revenue mobilization, adding that the first results show that the project has helped generate much-needed revenue for the Government of Liberia.
Ioannis Tzartzas continued
“At the same time, more efficient Customs procedures such as the Central Assessment Unit make it easier for Liberian and international businesses to trade in the years to come and we hope that the 349 Liberian colleagues who were mentored and trained by the consultants put what they have learned into daily practice now that the experts are leaving Liberia.”
For his part, LRA Commissioner of Customs Saa Saamoi lauded the project team, Ecorys, for helping Customs administration over the last two years to identify elements of fraud in Customs and weaknesses in the existing legislation which have the potential to undermine the authority of Customs to collect the needed revenue and manage our borders with the required efficiency.
“We established a very strong working relationship with the project team, and very often had a common view and approach to tackling existing problems in Customs.” LRA Commissioner of Customs Saa Saamoi stated.
The project began in April 2016, with the main implementation period running from July 2016 to early August 2018. The programme was implemented by four international experts based in Monrovia: Team Leader Peter Bennett, supported by Key Experts Brian Glancy, Graham Main and Bill Eliasson, as well as a number of international short-term experts providing specialist inputs.
Additionally, the program aimed at reducing smuggling and fraud through the strengthened capacity for anti-smuggling, intelligence & investigation and enforcement;
Also to Increase efficiency and enhanced trade facilitation, including reduced average clearance times, through strengthened capacity for management control and for consistent application of laws, regulations & procedures, in particular, promotion of voluntary compliance and post-clearance audit operations.