PUBLISHED ON October 13th, 2014

Agents back new regulations on customs clearance

CUSTOMS agents will have to acquire a professional certificates to be allowed to operate in Tanzania from next January.

The Vice-President of Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA), Stephen Ngatunga and Executive Director, John Mathenge told reporters in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that it would be mandatory for all custom agents to obtain an East Africa Customs and Freight Forwarding Practising Certificate (EACFFPC).

According to the Federation of EACFFPC, a certificate is obtained after attending a training programme jointly implemented by the East Africa Revenue Authorities (EARAs) and the national freight forwarding associations affiliated to the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA).

Mr Ngatunga said in the past two years, over 4,500 people have already obtained the professional certificate. “Here in Tanzania, we are working in partnership with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) whereby over 1,300 people have already undergone the training and obtained this professional certificate,” Mr Ngatunga said.

Mr Ngatunga said it’s time for the C&F industry in the region to rid itself of crooked elements tarnishing the good image of professional players who respect quality services to clients.

He said an official ceremony to launch the initiative will be held in Dar es Salaam at the end of this month and will be graced by President Jakaya Kikwete.

“We want to see that customs licensing officials considered C&F agents with qualified personnel,”
Ngatunga who is also President of Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) pointed out.

He said Tanzania has 600 registered C&F agents, most of which use unqualified personnel who have defrauded clients and colluded with dishonest revenue officials to cheat on taxes. Supporting Ngatunga’s arguments, Mr Mathenge said the days of crooked unprofessional C&F agents are numbered.

“Effective next January we want authorities to license only those clearing and forwarding agents who have professionally qualified personnel to get licences,” pointed out Mathenge, who urged all C&F agents to send their ground personnel to institutions offering professional training using FEAFA curriculum.

He said as regional trade grows rapidly, C&F is becoming an important medium to facilitate smooth cross border trade in East Africa and beyond, hence clients expect cheap quality services. “Minimum qualifications for people to join this professional training is an average C pass mark at ordinary level (Form IV),” the FEAFA director noted.

In Tanzania, TAFFA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with TRA to utilise its Mikocheni based Institute of Tax Administration (ITA), to train local C&F agents and obtain the EAFFPC.

In 2012, FEAFA received 495, 980 US dollars (over 700m/-) from Trade Mark East Africa to improve import logistics through training of clearing and forwarding, but also customs officials to help address trade barriers in EA region.

The grant targeted to train over 4,000 personnel by end of last year, saying the logistics costs account for about 42 per cent of total cost of importing, while the costs associated with delays represent about 23 per cent of the total import process cost, according to Trade Mark. In 2011, TradeMark also handed FEAFFA a 1 million US dollars (over 1.6bn/-) grant to help improve capacity of C&F agents.

Source:: All Africa

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