Commissioner General of the Customs and Excise Department (CED) Mohamed Bamba has said his department collected Le 362.1 Billion compare to Le 308.4 billion in 2007, an increase of almost 54 billion (17.4%).
He added that, 2008 was a challenging year for the CED, noting that the challenges were triggered by external shocks evident by the astronomical increase in price of petroleum products and basic food items.
Commissioner Bamba said this on Monday 26th January in a stakeholder’s seminar to mark the celebration of World Customs Day with the theme: “The Role of Customs in Fighting against Environmental Crime.”
He noted that in order to cushion the impact of these increases on the ordinary Sierra Leonean, the government had no alternative but to reduce the rates of duties on petroleum products, rice, sugar and flour. These reductions he said affected our collection.
The Commissioner projected that 2009 is more challenging as the CED is expected to collect Le 452.8 Billion.
This he stated cannot be achieved without the cooperation and support of our valued stakeholders, appealing to all stakeholders to cooperate fully with the Customs and Excise Department in the attainment of the targets set for 2009.
Speaking on the theme, he said that, “we have a responsibility to protect our citizenry and country from illegal trade of commodities that damage the health of people and environment, prevent the extinction of endangered species and stop the illegal exploitation of our natural resources and reserves”.
Therefore, as “we celebrate this 57th anniversary, we hope to use this forum to raise awareness among our officers and citizenry, of the need to protect our environment, health and even our lives”.
In his statement, Abdulai Charm NRA Director for Legal Affairs who deputized the commissioner said that, environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem, with criminals polluting the air, water and land and pushing commercially valuable wild life species closer to extinction.
For us in Sierra Leone, we must be aggressively pro-active to prevent toxic substances being imported in to our country by unscrupulous business people, he said.
“We (NRA) continue to educate the public so that we can all work together to address vital national problems,” adding that our border guards cannot do the job of tracking down, and reporting those who can be termed as ‘Environmental Criminals’.
In a power point keynote address, Executive Director for Conservative Society Sierra Leone Dr Daniel Siaffa said that organized crime is having a detrimental impact on the development, stability and security of the Mano River Union (MRU).
He highlighted that, illegal logging, wildlife poaching, timber smuggling, pirate fishing and stealing of valuable plant and animals are the different types of environmental crime.
On the biblical aspect, Pastor Ajisafe of Sanctuary Praise Church said that God gives us a beautiful environment that we need to maintain and take good care of.
“It is good for us to look at our environment because God will hold us accountable”, he said. We have the responsibility to make the earth the happiest place as it is a blessing and not a curse.
Giving a statement from the Maritime Wing, Lt Abdul Karim Dumbuya said that, Sierra Leone is potentially a wealthy nation: much of this potential lies in its mineral and marine resources including revenue from our sea transport.
“The protection of the marine environment is therefore vital to the development of prosperity, stability and security in our country”, Dumbuya said.
Meaningful statements were made by the National Coordinator for Civil Society Alternative Process (CSAP-SL) Falla Ensa N’Dayma, Fatmata Salisu from Green Scenery, JPJ Conteh from Interpol, whilst the programme was chaired by Solomon Kamara from the Ministry of Lands and Housing.