Bolgatanga, April 26, GNA - Mr Ernest Sasuh, Upper East Regional Commander of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), at the weekend urged government and district assemblies in the region to institute a legislation prohibiting the opening of fuel stations in towns closer to the borders.
He further called for a law that would prohibit vehicles, especially articulated trucks, from building extra fuel tanks, other than that of the vehicle manufacturer, saying long distance drivers, particularly were using additional tanks to smuggle fuel out of the country.
The CEPS boss made the call at a dinner with journalists at Bolgatanga. The event was to bridge bring together the CEPS and the press in the region.
Mr Sasuh cited the recent construction of two new fuel stations at Missiga and Pusiga near Bawku, saying that the number of vehicles in those places did not merit the establishment of a filling station. "It is obvious that the purpose of locating the filling stations in these areas is to facilitate the smuggling of petroleum products across the border," he said.
He said it would be difficult for CEPS personnel alone to completely halt smuggling without the support of the citizenry. "Smuggling can only be curbed when the citizenry know their civic responsibilities and are prepared to discharge these responsibilities with honesty and patriotism."
On the perceived corruption among Customs officials, Mr Sasuh said like all human institutions there were "bad nuts" in the Service. However, the impression that all CEPS personnel are corrupt and do not promptly declare duties and taxes received on goods, is erroneous, he added.
"No official of the Service is allowed to keep tax money. Such monies are paid immediately to the consolidated fund through the baking system."
The Public Relations Officer at CEPS Headquarters, Mr Robert Mensah, explained some modalities involved in the ECOWAS Protocol as well as Trade Liberalization policies among ECOWAS countries, and said all manufactured products from any West African country to another are exempted from taxes.
"However, proof must first be established about the country of origin," he emphasized.
He said in the quest for efficiency, most of the collection points of CEPS have been automated to speed up the processes involved in duty collection on imported and exported goods.
Mr Mensah announced that the Paga border post would soon be linked to the DCNet system currently being operated by CEPS. He appealed to journalists in the region to join CEPS in its efforts to sensitize the public on the duties of the Service and the need for the citizenry to help facilitate revenue collection for national development.
The Regional Chairman of The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr. Mohammed Issahaq, commended CEPS for organizing the get-together and for recognizing the media as development partners.
He called on CEPS officials to open up to journalists when they approach them for information.