By Kebba AF Touray 
The Association of Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents (ACCFA), on Thursday December 27th 2018, held their 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM), at a local Hotel in Banjul.
The AGM which was attended by Clearing and forwarding Agents from across the country, was graced by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Commissioner of customs at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), President of the Association of Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents in Senegal, among other key personalities.
According to the organizers, ACCFA was formed in 2001 and became fully operational in 2003; that the aim and objective of ACCFA, is to facilitate and complement Customs’ effort in collecting revenue for Government, as well as provide trade information and promotion, including the training of personnel required to operate such services. The organizers added that the rationale behind the AGM, was to accord members the opportunity to meet and report on their successful achievement and challenges, and chart the way forward.
In his welcome remarks on behalf of the President of the Association, Essa Wally the Vice president said the AGM was part of their Constitutional requirement in the fulfilment of reporting on the task and responsibilities bestowed on them. According to Wally, the idea of creating the association was conceived in 2001, in response to a request from then Commissioner General of the GRA and other clearing agents. Wally said their vision is to promote and develop ethical business standards and to make proposals for the constant improvement of the clearing and forwarding of goods prevailing at the Port of Banjul, and all the services connected to it in the best interest of the economy of the country.
For his part, the Secretary General of ACCFA Sulayman Joof, said the aim of the association are to create a uniform national association of clearing and forwarding agents in the Gambia, assist consignees in the unloading and loading of their Cargo at the sea, airport and border posts respectively.
He said it is part of their activities to prepare bookings for goods to be shipped, prepare Customs declaration forms, paying Customs duties and taxes, handling charges for cargo and other shipments.
According to Joof, in 2016 they hired the service of a Lawyer who prepared their constitution; that they have draft amendments of the Constitution and the Code of Conduct, which will be reviewed for adoption during the AGM.
For his part, Lamin Dampha Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, emphasized on the significant roles the association plays in terms of nation building. He challenged them to continue the good work of moving Gambian businesses forward.
Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner General, the Commissioner for Customs Alieu Ceesay, called on the association to continue playing their roles; that the GRA relies on the information the Clearing Agents give them. Ceesay challenged the association to employ competent staff to give clear and reliable information to the people in need of their services. He further tasked the association to have proper offices with proper equipment, and to make information accessible to the people.
The AGM was chaired by the PRO of the association who commended everyone who made the event a success. He urged all and sundry to participate in the AGM and make constructive criticism to carve the way forward for a smooth operation of their association.

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