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10.12.2002 Business & Finance

Minister concerned about inefficiencies in revenue mobilisation

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The Ghanaian Government has expressed serious worry over inefficiencies of revenue collecting agencies and urged them to tighten their mechanisms to increase revenue and also protect domestic production.

To this end, Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo (MP) has charged the new Commissioner for the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, Brigadier Richardson Edwin Baiden to organise the Service to reduce the level of collusion between some officers and importers in the payment of correct duties on imported goods.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo gave the directive when he officially introduced the new Commissioner to Assistant Commissioners of the Service from the headquarters, James Town, the Kotoka International Airport and Tema in Accra.

Brigadier Baiden, 56, who until his appointment on December 5, 2002, was the Military Secretary of the Ghana Armed Forces, takes over within the next seven days from Mr. Isaac Kofi Opoku-Ntiamoah, the out-going commissioner. Mr. Osafo-Maafo praised the CEPS for directly collecting a high 44.6 percent of national total domestic revenue through import duties this year and 48.7 in 2001.

Citing rice and poultry as instances, the Finance Minister, however, said collusion of customs officers with importers to pay very low duties or nothing at all did not only deprive the nation of revenue, but also gave foreign competitors an edge, with cheaper prices, over local products and kill local initiative.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo said the use of weight to determine the level of duties did go well with all imports, adding that false documentation with all kinds of stamps from the CEPS and the Bank of Ghana were being used to avoid payment of correct import duties.

The Finance Minister asked the management and staff of CEPS to join hands with the new commissioner to improve upon the efficiency and effectiveness of the service to avoid raising additional tax structures.

He said the new commissioner would be bound to make changes and transfers to give the Service an improved structure for results, and asked the assistant commissioners not to see any such moves as victimisation.

"Give him the free hand to operate within the laws," Mr Osafo-Maafo said. They applauded when the Finance Minister told the new commissioner to consider improved logistics and remuneration paramount issues in raising the performance of the Service.

Brigadier Baiden requested the assistance of the management and staff of the Service. He asked them to not to see decisions he would take negatively, but co-operate with him to serve to the satisfaction of the government and people of Ghana.

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