By S. U. Thoronka.
Credible official sources from the National Revenue Authority NRA have intimated the Global Times that all Heads of State in the Ecowas sub region met in Abidjan in 2006 and signed a treaty that established what was known as the Common External Tariff (CET) to be implemented by member states in the sub-region.
The purpose of this treaty, according to the same sources was to harmonize Ecowas member states customs tariff, strengthen Ecowas domestic markets, but that implementation of such tariff will not change the customs clearance process.
It will enable importers in Sierra Leone to pay the same duty rates on particular products as those in other Ecowas countries among other things.
CET is geared towards reducing smuggling, provide incentive for local producers, increase Government revenue, replaces old system and tariff bands, affected goods are those manufactured outside Ecowas countries.
During the official launching of CET yesterday at the Boxton Primary School Hall on Charles Street, Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Philip Kargbo who incidentally doubles as the Chairman National Committee on CET, informed pressmen that out of fifteen member countries of Ecowas who signed the treaty, thirteen have already implemented the Common Extension Tariff and that Sierra Leone and Cape Verde are the only two countries left behind.
Dr. Kargbo in his brief also underscored the need for the implementation of CET, adding that it creates a wider market in the region and at the same time leads to economic growth. He said after the signing of the treaty, member states only started implementation in 2013, and that Sierra Leone should have implement in 2015 when the Ebola Virus stroke. He noted that after the Ebola it took some time to carry out an import adjustment tax assessment for the approval of Ecowas before the final implementation that took place yesterday.
Dr. Kargbo further informed that both Guinea and Liberia implemented the Common External Tariff CET just a couple of months ago and that the only country presently out of the race is Cape Verde. It is however, expected that by 2019 all countries that signed up would have implemented the CET.
Other speakers included Kpana Conteh NRA whose intervention was demonstrated by a power point presentation, a representative from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and many more.