Support to the customs department of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA)

Support to the customs department of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA)

How four experts went out to Liberia and increased revenue by USD 1 million fighting corruption and smuggling on a daily basis

The project team, Ecorys, helped our customs administration for over two years to identify elements of fraud in Customs, and weaknesses in the existing legislations. These have the potential to undermine the authority of Customs to collect the needed revenue and manage our borders with the required efficiency.

Commissioner of Customs Mr. Saa Samoi

CONTEXT

As a result of the long civil war, the Customs Department, like many other government bodies, suffered from a lack of adequate qualified and experienced personnel to carry out its day to day activities effectively. Customs Department of the Liberia Revenue Authority was collecting revenue at its incremental level. The authorities main challenge to increase compliance and reduce corruption was to achieve consistent application of the laws, regulations and procedures.

OBJECTIVES

  • To strengthen the current and future capacity of public institutions to effectively formulate, implement and monitor sound and sustainable economic governance that is both pro-growth and developmental in its focus and application.
  • 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.
  • To improve accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency of Customs operations and management in Liberia.

RESULTS

  • Increased revenue collected by the Customs Department year on year: Annual revenue collection increased by USD 1 million because staff learned how to follow procedures and in particular how to pick high risk shipments for physical checks to collect due revenue and fines from fraudsters. May 2018 saw the highest revenue collection in the Monrovia Freeport ever.
  • Reduced cargo clearance times: Importers or their brokers can now submit declarations electronically to the new Central Assessment Unit which is a step towards a paperless environment and at the same time increased transparency and reduced opportunity for corruption.
  • Reduced percentage of import consignments subjected to physical inspection by Customs: Customs examinations of cargo reduced by 50% which means that controls are facilitated for law-abiding importers while high risk shipments are more severely scrutinised.

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FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Collection in customs revenue increased by USD 1 million
  • 349 LRA staff trained of which 111 women
  • Over 40 intelligence feedback reports produced
  • A 5-year modernisation strategy drafted
  • Duration: 29 months

TESTIMONY

Albert Saab, Customs Modernisation Unit

"The EU/Ecorys project to the Liberia Revenue Authority planned and developed the new Customs Modernisation Unit and I was recruited as its manager. We have worked jointly to help Customs in operations, training and to facilitate international and regional trade with the aim of increasing revenue and enhancing the contribution of Customs to Liberia's annual budget and development.

During the period of implementation we trained colleagues on valuation, determination of origin and classification of goods, in intelligence or how to detect and prevent smuggling, and in how to control documents after clearance. We also trained some colleagues to be trainers themselves and trained managers and supervisors in leadership skills and techniques. We also achieved the establishment of a new Intelligence Unit and increased staffing to the Modernization Unit as change progressed. Under the project we developed a Central Assessment implementation plan and drafted a Single Window roadmap.

Overall, the project’s guided enforcement efforts led to increased revenue collection. After two and a half years of successfully working together the consultants leave the Customs Department in a far better position than it was and I hope to utilise the lessons learned to carry the change process forward." Mr Albert Saab, Director of the Customs Modernisation Unit.