The Commissioner of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) Mr. Emmanuel Doku has underscored the need for the agency to be more equipped to meet the demands of modern day security threats.
He said in the 21st Century, the role of CEPS has gone beyond the traditional role of revenue collection for which reason he appealed to the US to increase aid to the service in all aspects of its operations.
“Being at the entry and exit points of the nation, custom officers need to be appropriately equipped to enable them tackle the proliferation of illegal arms and other dangerous goods into the country. The concept of fortified borders is key to national security,” he said
Mr. Emmanuel Doku was speaking at a capacity building and equipment donation to CEPS as part of US Customs and Border Protection (CPP) collaboration with CEPS.
CEPS took delivery of four laptop computers with specially installed software designed specifically for Ghana Customs.
“We look forward to greater cooperation between CEPS and the US Customs. More specifically, detector dogs can be used for various tasks in addition to drugs detection.”
He commended the US government for the series of training which started in 2003, saying it will encourage and motivate them to speed up the implementation of World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards.
Mr. Doku told ADM: “The training has been very successful, we started with integrity training for top management, management personnel then it descended to actual operators and the final part was the computerization of the processes…There's been a lot of improvement of security at the ports and lot of leakages of revenues have been removed…with the introduction of the automation, we have a chance now to quickly interdict any fictitious or fraudulent activities that are going on. So the opportunity is there for somebody sitting at the head office to record whatever is going on in Tema, so you can see exactly how a transaction is being managed. If there are fraudulent aspects of it then we put a stop to it”
The Commissioner said the management at CEPS is committed to the principles of the Arusha Declaration. The establishment of an Internal Affairs Unit, he noted, will further equip them to fight corruption and minimize the risk of revenue leakages and security breaches in the system.
In the area of intellectual property, he told ADM that CEPS has designed a system in which memorandums of understanding are signed with commercial houses whose products are easily counterfeited or pirated.
“As soon as we get tip off, we move in to interdict and destroy the items…we have destroyed items like tooth paste, food and cigarettes.”
On extortion at the ports, Mr. Doku said with the institution of the single widow where all transactions are done electronically, license or controlling authority like the Ghana Standards Board, Food and Drugs Board and inspection companies can directly send to them the permit or the licenses that are required for transactions.
This, he said, will help remove the opportunities for extortion in the system.
“If anybody has any doubt about what is being requested for, there is an authority to go to, we have at every station a sector commander or collector in charge who people could approach for their problems to be solved,” he told ADM.
Mr. Michael Evans, Chief Consular Section who spoke for the US Ambassador said the creation of an Internal Affairs Unit indicates Ghana's commitment to “moving ahead and working towards a future of growing prosperity for all her citizens”.
He said the entire trading sector depends on the integrity and efficiency of CEPS.
“Not only is the customs service responsible for the efficient flow of legal goods, it is also responsible for stopping the flow of dangerous goods,” he said.
Mr. Evans charged CEPS to be vigilant against the violation of Ghana's borders by traffickers and smugglers who trade in drugs and people.
“The illicit agents threaten the economic security and peace of Ghana and the rest of the world in this age of increasing globalization.”
On January 2002, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed the Container Security Initiative (CSI) to push US port security back into the supply chain to the port of origin.
Under CSI, high-risk containers are identified, prescreened and evaluated before they are shipped. Containers inspected at CSI ports are not ordinarily inspected again upon arrival at the US seaport, hence they move faster, are more predictable and efficient.