Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu has appealed to personnel of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to endeavour to improve on the public's perception of the service as an endemic corrupt entity.
"If public perception of CEPS is anything to go by then I dare say that the service has what I will call an image crisis. For some people corruption is an acceptable culture deeply embedded in all spheres of CEPS' operations," he said.
Mr Baah-Wiredu made the appeal when addressing the closing session of a five-day integrity awareness training seminar organized by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) for the Management and Senior Staff of CEPS in Accra.
The seminar was designed to enhance the integrity of CEPS and reduce the high incidence of corruption, which is undermining its image and credibility.
It was also to broaden the understanding of the participants, the forces of change that are constantly reshaping global business, and improve the organization's ability to deal with and find solutions to corruption.
The seminar formed part of training sessions being offered to CEPS by the US Customs over a two-year period to help Ghana build her capacity to implement the World Customs Organization (WCO) framework of standards to secure and facilitate global trade.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said issues of national and personal values should be discussed without fear if the country should attain its developmental goals.
"We can develop our nation if issues like corruption, extortion, lateness to work, greed, graft, selfishness and low productivity are discussed not out of fear, but for the betterment of the nation," he added.
Mr Baah-Wiredu asked the participants not only to view integrity within the broader context of global trade and security but also within the specific socio-cultural circumstances of the country.
He noted that developing a sense of integrity called for the formulation of a new global coalition based on a concerted and cooperative action by all concerned global forces, adding, "This is where CEPS has a role to play."
Consequently, the Finance Minister noted, government was taking steps to ensure that CEPS personnel, as well as other revenue generating institutions, were adequately compensated to enable them resist any corruptible tendencies, adding that the process needed time to mature.
He tasked the participants to work with renewed determination and commitment to do what was right and allow the knowledge acquired at the seminar reflect and impact positively in all spheres of their operations.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu expressed appreciation to the US government for supporting Ghana to build the capacity of strategic national institutions.
The WCO Framework of Standards, adopted unanimously by the 168-member organization 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.