The Brong Ahafo regional command of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) has pledged to intensify its cocoa anti-smuggling operation this year, especially in areas stretching from Nkrankwanta in the Dormaa west municipality in the Brong Ahafo region through Yawmatwa to Jato, Kukumso and Ahimakrom in the Western Region.
It said even though the exercise posed a lot of challenges, the officers and men of the command had resolved to work harder than before to achieve this objective.
"By so doing we shall be fulfilling our preventive functions of securing the borders of the country and rendering service to our dear country", it said.
The CEPS Regional Commander, Mr Samuel Tetteh-Quarshie made the pledged at the end-of-year party and awards night in Sunyani over the weekend.
Mr Tetteh-Quarshie, who is also an Assistant Commissioner of CEPS, cautioned prospective buyers of vehicles, either new or used ones in the region to verify the documents covering them with any CEPS office for validity before buying them.
He stated that a lot of vehicles in the region were suspected to be uncustomed which have been smuggled into the country from neighbouring countries by land or by temporal importation facility.
The regional commander, therefore, advised persons in possession of such uncustomed vehicles to voluntary comply by reporting to any CEPS office to pay the relevant duties and tax.
He added that the service would continue to search for such vehicles and seize them in accordance with the law.
He announced that the command collected GH¢2.30 million in 2008, representing 91.55 per cent of the target revenue for the year, adding that it fell short of 8.45 per cent.
Mr Tetteh-Quarshie attributed the short fall to the unstable political situation in La Cote d' Ivoire giving rise to sporadic import flow, poor nature of roads leading to most of the frontier stations in the region, inadequate manpower and insufficient logistics and governments policy on zero rating of some specific cereals such as rice and yellow maize, which were incidentally the main imports through that corridor.
He called for co-operation from the general public to launch an onslaught on smugglers, adding that informants who would give reliable information on smuggling activities would be rewarded by the service.
The Brong Aha~ Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo commended the officers and men of CEPS in the region for the marginal gains they had made in revenue collection for the state.
He, however, expressed the hope that they would maximise their efforts to ensure that the command exceeded its revenue collection target for this year.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo also appealed to all revenue agencies to work harder this year to enable them exceed their projected revenue collection for the year to help the country to break away from the over reliance on donor inflows.
He also called for co-operation from all the security agencies patrolling the various frontiers in the region, to help curb smuggling of petroleum products and cocoa to neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire.
In all, 18 officers and men of the CEPS regional command were honoured for their hard work and dedication to duty.
The overall best worker award (senior officers' category) went to Mr Frederick A. Yankey, the Chief Collector while Mr Charles G. Lartey won the junior officers' category award.