A new framework for the implementation of the East African Customs and Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate (EACFFPC) has been adopted by the Commissioners of Customs of the EAC Partner State Revenue Authorities, the Chairpersons of National Associations of customs agents and freight forwarders, the EAC Director General of Customs and Trade and the President of the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA) at Hotel Verde, Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania.
While opening the EACFFPC high level policy meeting, the Regional Commissioner Urban West, Zanzibar, Hon. Ayoub Mohd Mahmoud who represented the Vice President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar applauded the freight forwarding industry in East Africa for championing self-driven professionalism.
“Am glad that you have taken the initiative to work out your own journey to professionalism, others wait for government to do it for them” emphasized the chief guest.
He emphasized the importance of training in ensuring professionalization of the sector as an anchor. He referred to the industry’s past where people thought it was easy for anyone to walk in and out at will before changes in the operating environment necessitated that every practitioner must undergo a basic level of training to perform the tasks within this noble industry.
He appealed to the operators to embrace change for the industry to begin receiving treatment similar to what other professions are accorded.
On his part, the FEAFFA president Mr. Stephen Ngatunga gave assurance of the industry’s commitment to professionalism, compliance, efficiency and competitive service delivery.
“We remain at the forefront of collecting and securing government revenue, securing the supply chain system, ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, facilitating trade for the social economic growth and development of our region – we strongly believe this is our responsibility and are committed to discharge it diligently and professionally” said Mr. Ngatunga.
On behalf of the East African Community, the Director General Trade and Customs Mr. Keneth Bagamuhunda shared a testimony of the progress the region had made since implementation of the EACFFPC programme started over ten years ago and appealed to all stakeholders to continue supporting successful rolling out of the program.
On behalf of TradeMark East Africa, Mr. Allan Ngugi assured stakeholders of his organization’s commitment to continue supporting skills enhancement in the logistics sector in the region.
Earlier, the FEAFFA executive Director Mr. John Mathenge informed the meeting that more than 6000 customs agents and freight forwarders have qualified from the programme across the region including some in Zanzibar where training had recently started.
While closing the meeting, the Tanzania Revenue Authority deputy commissioner for Zanzibar Mr. Mcha Hassan Mcha appealed to participants to commit to successful implementation of the new policy framework.
The new policy framework now requires firms seeking customs agency and bonded warehouse license to have at least one Manager or CEO or Director holding the EACFFPC in addition to meeting the previous requirement of two staff dealing directly with customs. The framework also paves way for review of the training program to address issues of progression, duration, equivalence and entry requirements that have in the past affected the training programme. It further paved way for development of a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme for the industry to ensure EACFFPC graduates are kept technically and professionally up to date. The policy framework finally seeks recognition of training of the Customs agents and Customs bonded warehouse keepers in the East African Community legal instruments.
EACFFPC is a six months joint regional training program of the East African Revenue Authorities, National associations of the Freight Forwarding industry, the EAC Directorate of Customs and FEAFFA. It aims at equipping practicing or prospective custom agents and freight forwarders with requisite skills and competencies in customs and freight forwarding. Its implemented started in 2006 and over 6000 have graduated.
The High Level Policy Meeting brought together the Director General of Customs and Trade of EAC, Commissioners of Customs of the Revenue Authorities of the Partner States of EAC, Chairpersons of national associations of the customs clearing and freight forwarding agencies and the President of the Federation. It is the highest decision making organ of the EACFFPC programme.