Mr Emmanuel Doku, Commissioner of Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), yesterday noted that integrity was the key to creating a high-performing revenue agency capable of living up to its corporate targets.
"As managers we must accept integrity as a moral capital. Integrity, in my opinion, should be seen as the best weapon for re-building our image. The fight against corruption must be seen as a collective responsibility," he said.
Mr Doku was speaking in Accra at the opening of a five-day integrity awareness training seminar being organised by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency for the Management of CEPS.
The seminar is designed to enhance the integrity of CEPS and reduce the high incidence of corruption, which is undermining its image and credibility. It is also aimed at broadening their understanding of the forces of change that are constantly reshaping global business, as well as improve the organisation's ability to deal with and find solutions to corruption.
The seminar is one in a series of training sessions being offered to CEPS by the US Customs over a two-year period as a commitment of that country to help Ghana to build its capacity to implement the World Customs Organisation (WCO) framework of standards to secure and facilitate global trade.
Mr Doku, who maintained that corruption was a complex issue with dimensions and implications, said that because of its pervasive nature, there was always the risk of underestimating its actual impact on revenue collection and national security.
He said as managers, they should develop capacity to define, lead and nurture innovative strategies that would enhance organisational performance. "But we cannot talk about integrity if we are unable to redefine our organisational culture and management systems.
"If we are able to align our structures and systems to support change, if we are able to target our resources, both human and material strategically and if we involve the rank and file of our staff early in our change management initiative then I have no doubt that we will exceed the expectations of our stakeholders," he told the participants.
The Commissioner expressed appreciation to the US for the goodwill it had demonstrated and its determination to support the Service to realise its vision of providing world-class customs service to its clients.
He expressed the hope that at the end of the seminar some of the challenges of corruption confronting the Service would have been thoroughly discussed. The US Ambassador to Ghana Ms Pamela Bridgewater recognised the role played by CEPS in maintaining Ghana's security and economic prosperity.
She said CEPS stood to play an important role in the effectiveness of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) since the entire trading sector, including those exporting agricultural products under the MCC, depended upon the transparent, honest and efficient handling of customs procedures for goods at Ghana's ports and airports. Additionally, CEPS plays a key role in combating narcotics trafficking and smuggling and the global war against terrorism.
The Ambassador applauded Ghana's "zero tolerance for corruption" policy, saying, "Ghana's commitment to implement the World Customs Organisation framework of standards, including strengthening anti-corruption efforts, would benefit Ghana and the global economy."
She noted that corruption was not merely a plague for Ghana, or even in the developing countries, but was tackled daily in the US in various areas and expressed the hope that the seminar would help in Ghana's anti-corruption efforts. The WCO Framework of Standards, adopted unanimously by the 168-member organisation in June 2005, represents the new benchmark for supply chain security practices to be employed by customs administration globally.
The framework provides detailed guidance to countries as they seek to implement procedures that effectively improve the security of international trade against the threat of terrorism and trans-national crime, bolster the integrity of border enforcement personnel and facilitate legitimate shipments that are shown to pose minimal risk. The US played a key role in determining the content and scope of the framework.