The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the British American Tobacco (BAT) Ghana Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to fight counterfeiting and generate more revenue.
The MOU enjoins the CEPS to protect the brands of BAT by clamping down on counterfeiting and smuggling of the products while the BAT provides information and equipment, as well as sponsors training programmes for CEPS officials to execute their mandate.
Ultimately, the MOU would bring immense financial reward to the two parties as it is expected to increase the revenue mobilisation of the CEPS, while minimising the loss of income of the BAT as a result of counterfeiting and smuggling of its products.
Commissioner of CEPS, Mr Emmanuel Doku, and the General Manager (West Africa Central) of the BAT, Mr Jonathan D'Souza, signed the MOU for their respective institutions.
Mr Doku said counterfeiting was a serious drain on national revenue and, therefore, ought to be combated.
He said the MOU had come at the appropriate time because it was in line with achieving the objective of this year's World Customs Day celebration which focused on the need to fight counterfeiting.
Mr D'Souza, for his part, said the MOU marked the formalisation of a long-standing relationship between the CEPS and the BAT, and expressed the hope that the relationship would continue.
He said illicit trade undermined the nation's economy, so every effort must be made to fight it.
According to Mr D'Souza, as of May, 2006, illicit trade in tobacco accounted for 17.5 per cent of the market share but through a sustained fight against it, the rate had reduced to six per cent.
He expressed the conviction that the MOU would provide the weapon to win the war against illicit trade, and thanked the CEPS for its support.
Story by Kofi Yeboah