The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), with the assistance of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency (USCBP), has established an Internal Affairs Unit to improve the Service's enforcement efforts.
The Unit will enhance CEPS stance to fight corruption, maintain integrity, and minimise the risk of revenue leakages and security breaches in the system. It would also ensure that customs procedures for handling goods at Ghana's entry points are made transparent and efficient.
About thirty persons have been recruited by the CEPS and trained by the USCBP to oversee the affairs of the unit, which is expected to be independent in nature. The unit has Intelligence and Investigative components to ensure a strong enforcement team.
To this end, the USCBP yesterday handed over four laptop computers fitted with specialised software worth 50,000 dollars to build the capacity of the unit.
The USCBP in September last year trained 10 CEPS personnel in computer software to support the new Unit. It had since 2003 been collaborating with the CEPS on a series of training programmes focused primarily on areas like integrity awareness, land, sea and air enforcement and computer software use among other areas.
Mr. Michael Evans, Chief of the Consular Section of the US Embassy in Accra, representing the Ambassador, said the training given to the CEPS personnel by the USCBP was a continuation of the 'strong support provided by the Embassy for the conception and establishment of this unit over the last several years'.
'The creation and development of this Internal Affairs Unit signals Ghana's commitment to moving ahead and working towards a future of growing prosperity for all of her citizens'.
Mr Evans noted that CEPS' role in protecting Ghana's security and economic prosperity was crucial, saying, 'It is impossible to overestimate the importance of transparent and efficient handling of customs procedures for goods at Ghana's land borders, ports, and airports'. 'The entire trading sector depends on the integrity and efficiency of CEPS. Trade is a lifeblood of any country', he added.
Mr Evans exhorted CEPS to remain vigilant against the violation of Ghana's borders by traffickers and smugglers, adding that, their (smugglers and traffickers) agenda threatened the economic security and peace of Ghana as well as the rest of the world.
Mr Emmanuel Doku, CEPS Commissioner expressed appreciation to the US Government for the donation and the continued training support to CEPS by the USCBP to build the services capacity in line with the World Customs Organisation's Framework of Standards.
He acknowledged that the current threats to national security globally required customs administrations to take greater roles in enforcement, which thus called for an appropriately equipped customs personnel to tackle the proliferation of illegal arms and other dangerous goods into the country.
Mr Doku commended the USCBP for the capacity building initiatives to other customs administrations because the concept of fortified borders was key to national security.
He stressed that the forum had offered CEPS the opportunity to reaffirm its revenue administration reforms that were geared towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in tax the administration.
The Commissioner appealed to the US authorities to assist the service to enhance its capacity in other areas by training officers and through the donation of security logistics.