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26.08.2008 General News

Massive corruption at ports...Ameyaw Akumfi worried

26.08.2008 LISTEN
By Alfred Adams Takoradi - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi says there is massive bribery, pilfering and corruption, going on in the shipping industry. According to him, the Ministry was doing its best to eradicate the cankers, but they would simply not go away.

He expressed worry over situations where vehicles shipped to the ports could vanish, even though security men were around, adding “I don't know if these security men have been sleeping on duty.” Speaking at an open forum, organized by the Ghana Shippers Council in Takoradi over the weekend, for importers and exporters in the shipping industry, Professor Ameyaw Akumfi deplored the increases in charges, revealing that legislation was being considered to halt it.

The Minister also appealed to importers and exporters, to pay the right taxes, because it was a source of revenue for the state.

The open forum formed part of the Shippers Council policy, of reaching out to and interacting with shippers and trade associations in their localities, to ascertain problems confronting them in their day-to-day transactions, and address to them.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Shippers Council, Mr. Kofi Mbiah, told the forum that the issue of efficiency in ports and land entry points, in relation to the clearance of goods, had been a matter of concern to Ghanaian shippers over the years.

He argued that it was not members of the council alone, that cleared goods from the ports, and that they could not be blamed for the problem.

He called for collaboration from all stakeholders, to find a lasting solution to the problem. “Despite efforts being made to minimize the problems in the clearance of goods, the expected results will not be achieved, if shippers do not do the right thing,” he said.

Mr. Mbiah called for scanners at the ports for the examination of containers, the compulsory wearing of uniforms and badges, by all customs excise staff and the registration of operators within the ports, among others.

He called on the government to strengthen its tax collecting system, to stem corruption.

This, he observed, must go along with a systematic reduction in duties, as a way of reducing the high dependence on import duties, to raise revenue.

Some of the participants also subjected officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), Police Service, and other institutions, who were present at the forum, to questions ranging from bribery and the taxes they pay at the ports.

The high taxes, the participants noted, were seriously affecting their businesses, and appealed to government to do something about it.

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