The Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Elfrieda Steward Tamba has disclosed that of the US$200 million Customs must contribute to the national budget, $104 million has been collected which constitutes 52% of the total contribution.
Mrs. Tamba made the disclosure on Friday, January 26, 2018 in her remarks during observance of International Customs Day at the Monrovia City Hall.
On July 18, 2017, the House of Representatives approved the total of US$563.6 million as national budget for 2017/2018, which lasts from the day of approval to June of the following year.
Customs is government's department responsible for collecting tariffs or duties on imported goods.
In furtherance of her remarks on Customs, the LRA Commissioner General said as Customs Organizations around the world are encouraged to take stock of their work and consider other factors that enhance trade facilitation.
In compliance with this duty, she noted that Customs in Liberia contributes 42% to domestic revenue in the national budget.
Additionally, she said Customs officers and brokers by extension are to ensure that collections at the various bordering points are lawful, fair and safe and free of territorial threats.
Bearing in mind that Customs' performance must be characterized by integrity in conformity with international best practices and standard, Mrs. Tamba said Liberia has commenced some transformation processes that will enhance this benchmark.
Among those transformational steps taken are the introduction of new version of the Automated System for customs Data (ASYCUDA), training and testing of users of this technology (ASYCUDA), and capacity building and technical assistance provided by the European Union.
The ASYCUDA technology, which Mrs. Tamba says requires the necessary infrastructures and technical support, is expected to get customers graduate from calling for declaration to using paperless technology to declare their goods anywhere via the Internet.
She used the occasion to call on all stakeholders including government and international partners to render the support that will enhance the modern technology needed nowadays at Customs to ensure transparency and integrity in doing cross-border business.
Regarding strides Customs and the LRA have made at some levels, Liberian businessman and keynote speaker of the International Customs Day celebration in Liberia, Amin Modad, said, "I'd be remiss if I don't congratulate the LRA and you, our customs officers, for your evolution over the years and the role this body plays in sustaining the economy and supporting development. Ladies and gentlemen, if you look back to the state of the Bureau of Customs 12 years ago, if you look at the level of integrity, current conditions, and dismal progress made by other agencies of government, and if you understand just how much the functioning of the Liberian Government depends on customs receipts, you will join me in recognizing that the LRA has become an example to follow."
Meanwhile, the celebration on January 26 marked the 66th International Customs Day since its launch in 1953.
The day was observed under the theme, "A secure business environment for economic development." According to World Customs Organization (WCO) newsletter, members of the WCO are encouraged to look at how they can create an environment of businesses that will foster their participation in cross-border trade and how they can best serve the people and empower entrepreneurs.
"By "secure," we mean an environment that is enabling, safe, fair and sustainable, all wrapped into one. Such an environment will help businesses, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), to expand their activities and create incentives for them to participate more fully in international trade, as well as encourage them to innovate, generate employment and invest in human resources, thereby boosting economic growth and raising living standards," WCO said.