The Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) through the Customs Department have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the training of 350 customs officers in order to boost their ability and techniques at various customs agencies across the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in the Police Inspector General’s conference room on Capitol Hill, LRA Customs Commissioner Mr. SaaSaamoi says the collaboration in the security sector is very key to the growth of any developing country.
Mr. Saamoi further explains that the customs department at LRA has been receiving collaborating support from the Liberia National Police when called upon for backup support.
“Let just give it a bit of background of why we are here today. I joined customs not too long ago but the history I met on the book on customs, is that customs are one of those agencies that are members of the joint security that formed part of the few agencies which was members that was part of the Liberia Frontier Force,” he explains.
“They actively emerged in security prior to our civil crisis until 1990 when everything got disintegrated,” Mr. Saamoi continues in giving the history of Liberia Customs Service.
He notes that after the crisis, there was big focus on the security sector reform, recalling that customs is the only agency in the joint security that has multiple functions.
Mr. Saamoi indicates that 40% percent of government revenues are collected by custom, and it also serves as environmental agent at the borders and at many agencies, among others.
“While the government was focused on security sector reform and the priority was given to other security agencies, the reform focused on customs basically putting us in the space to be able to support the government fiscally and that reform [has] gone a far way,” the custom boss narrates.
He further details that customs have succeeded in optimizing their procedure which enables the custom department to [raise] the country’s revenue from US$20 million to almost US$200 million over the last few years.
“The second aspect which is [boader] security, this [argument has] come from our partners at the global institution which is the World Customs organization at global level and that collaboration [has] already [taken] space between the World customs organization and Interpol,” Mr. Saamoi further explains.
He narrates that customs is key to the supply chain security, disclosing that it is against the backdrop that the customs department has started its security program.
He notes that the World Customs organization has been very supportive over the year, receiving over US$1000 for provision of equipment, spectrum meters and testers to test chemicals that are used to produce explosive devices.
“But the reality is that we have to develop on the ground, it was on that note that I contacted, I approached the Police Inspector General on the MoU about a year ago,” he says.
He says Coronavirus has distracted them, yet they didn’t lose sight. “We have been working behind the scenes and this MoU has been renewed and endorsed by the IG. I’m very happy today for allowing us to come and submit this instrument,” Mr. SaahSaamoi states.
For his part, Police Inspector General Patrick Sudu says it was an honor to have signed the Memorandum of Understanding, noting that the more the police trained customs officers, the more the police budget will increase. Director Sudu discloses that he was glad when he received the request from the Customs Commissioner to train customs officers.
Sudue says there is a need for qualified officers to work with the LRA in order to close those loop holes in the entity that have caused the country to lost revenues over the years. The Police IG further concludes that the Liberia National Police will do everything in its power to train those customs officers.
By Ben P. Wesee–Edited by Winston W. Parley