ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, May 29, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The African Union Commission's seminar on Integrity and Ethics in Customs administrations kicked off on 28 May 2014 in Kigali, Rwanda. Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the Rwanda Revenue Authority, experts from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the African Union Member States, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the private sector representatives and the representatives of anti-corruption commissions, will focus on making recommendations on how best customs administrations in Africa can deal with challenges of implementing effective Integrity and Ethics Programs so as to improve their service delivery. In the three days, experts will also focus on the outcomes of the seminar and inform the Trade Facilitation Cluster of the Action Plan in boosting Intra Africa Trade that was endorsed by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government through their decision (Assembly/ AU/Dec.394 [XVIII]) on Boosting Intra-African Trade and Fast tracking the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
The objective and scope of the Seminar is to take stock of Integrity and Ethics programs in AU Member States Customs Administrations and to critically examine the challenges of implementing them. In addition, the Seminar will also provide a forum for the exchange and sharing of best practices among and between Member States on various issues regarding the implementation of effective Integrity programs. Participants will be given a chance to examine the options available and interrogate them for suitability for implementation at the Continental level.
In his opening remarks, M. Aly Iboura Moussa, Acting Head of Customs Division for the AUC Department of Trade and Industry, pointed out that Customs administrations are often cited as among the most corrupt of all government agencies. He explained that this is essentially because of the nature of their job. “We are all aware that Customs Administrations world over play a vitally important role in every international trade transaction, and is often the first window through which the world views a country. The implications of unethical behavior in customs on a nation's capacity to benefit from the expansion of the global economy are obvious. More often than not, investors tend to shun countries perceived to have high levels of corruption”, he said. He also mentioned that quick fix solutions to address integrity and ethics issues do not work, and to effectively tackle the problem, a comprehensive and sustainable approach that addresses the underlying causes and consequences is required. “In addition, there should be political support at the policy level and involvement of the private sector through various mechanisms, for example, having Memorandum of Understandings (M.O.Us) for cooperation and implementation of best practices as well as Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) programs”, he emphasized.
The Commissioner General for Rwanda Revenue Authority, Mr. Richard Tusabe defined corruption as a two way act that implies a giver and a taker and he admitted that private sector is mostly part of the equation. He revealed that Rwanda is one of the few Africa countries that have managed to relatively combat corruption. “However, despite our achievements, we are open to learn from views of different experts in this seminar, while at the same time keeping our doors open for those who would like to learn from us”, he declared. “I hope this seminar will serve as an interactive platform to share views on challenges met while dealing with the issues of corruptions and come up with possible recommendations to ensure the achievement of integrity and ethics in both our Customs Administrations and partners”, he concluded.
The Seminar is organized on the recommendations of the African Union Sub-Committee of Director Generals of Customs who, at their 4th Ordinary session meeting held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia from 6-7 September 2012, recommended among others that “a continental seminar be held to discuss the issue in depth and produce a more specific Declaration that AU Member States can adhere to and implement.”