The Customs Department of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its Guinean and Sierra Leonean counterparts for mutual administrative assistance to combat customs crimes and boost customs revenues in the three countries.
The Customs authorities agreed to foster meaningful and more robust collaborations in facilitating cross-border trade and improved security as means to attract domestic resource mobilization in the three Mano River Union (MRU) countries.
The resolution between the three MRU countries was signed over the weekend in the Guinean Capital, Conakry, at the close of their first tripartite meeting.
Customs Commissioner Saa Saamoi signed the resolution for Liberia, while Sierra Leonean Customs Chief Abu Martin Kanneh and Guinea’s Director General of Customs Brigadier General Moussa Camara signed for their respective countries.
Additionally, the MoU contains a chain of immediate actions that seek to strengthen cohesion, solidarity, and cooperation in countering Customs frauds that are detrimental to the economic, commercial, fiscal, social, cultural, or security interests of the three countries.
The customs authorities resolved to strengthen cooperation among border officers, improve intelligence sharing, and called on their respective governments to rehabilitate roads and bridges to enhance trade facilitation and boost revenue collection.
The MRU Countries Customs Chiefs, in separate closing statements, underscored the need for mutual administrative assistance among them as a workable way of addressing revenue frauds, facilitating cross-border trades, and engendering regional security.
The need for customs collaboration among our three countries is imperative in fighting security threats and revenue frauds,” Liberia’s Customs Commissioner Saa Saamoi insisted during the two-day meeting. Saamoi stressed, “Our borders are extremely porous, and it takes only collaboration among our countries and ports to put revenue fraud under control.”
Guinea’s Customs Director General Camara added that cross-border criminality has increased in recent years and that the three countries needed to collaborate with each playing its role in arresting cross-border crimes in a region with multiple porous borders.
He added that the collaboration would help fight trade based money laundering and unwholesome cross-border crimes and trades.
In his closing statement, Sierra Leonean Customs Chief Abu Martin Kanneh noted “The only way we can succeed in fighting cross border crime and illicit trade is to collaborate,”
Kanneh described the MoU as the beginning of a new era in the MRU region for customs administrations, adding that they would work to help each other in terms of intelligence in tracking down customs-related crimes and protecting revenues.
Saamoi led an expert-based Liberian delegation, including Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Enforcement Atty. D. Blamo Kofa; Manager for Anti-Smuggling and Investigations Unit (ASIU) Masu Fahnbulleh; Manager for Customs Collections and Enforcement Robert Pyne; Manager for Customs Risk Management and Intelligence Abraham F. Siafa, ASIU Supervisor Abel Sneh, among others.
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