The Commissioner General of NRA, Haja Kalla Kamara, said digital customs has a positive impact on their core mandate, such as revenue mobilization, trade facilitation and border controls. She said all the suggestions made will be looked at seriously and they will try to implement them because without those stakeholders, NRA will not survive and the country will be at standstill.
“Due to the fact that we imbibe a progressive culture, plans are being made to migrate from the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA ++++) to ASYCUDA World, that is why customs revenue has doubled.”
She said that out of jealousy and frustration people are going around castigating the NRA that they set target for themselves, which she dismissed as untrue true as that is done by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank. Madam Kalla Kamara said in 2008, NRA was collecting billions of Leones but by 2015 they collected trillions, which she said was because of the improved systems and the quality staff they have.
The Commissioner General reiterated that over the years digitalization of their processes has been an integral component in the Customs department’s operations, E-customs has helped to boost their revenue collection.
“E-customs has wiped away many vices that are usually associated with the manual process; e-customs has been a catalyst in simplifying our procedures and processes for positive outcomes.”
“On this premise, let me divulge to you the strides this department has made vis-a-vis digital Customs. We have inter-connection between Customs House and various NRA offices, such as Lungi and Gbalamuya. There is automatic updating of taxpayer identification Number (TIN) from the TIN office at Wellington Street to the ASYCUDA system at Cline Town.”
She also averred that they have in place windows (IP Phone that enables voice connection between offices) and there is Virtual Private Network (VPN) that connects all stakeholders such as banks, shippers and agents in the clearance process.
This, the Commissioner General said, is done by encrypting the date over the public network, hence a total of 35 sites, including 15 commercial banks that are now connected to this network.
Manager of Valuation and Assessment, Mr. Yassin Jalloh-Jamboria said what the Customs Department is working on is the one that people can sit at home and be able to clear their goods from their computers after they meet all the conditions.
He said currently 50 percent of their job is done through the computer and 50 percent still is done through paper work. “We are working tirelessly with all our partners to make sure they digitalize their own systems and make it easier for all of us.”