17.03.2005 Business & Finance

Customs operations evolving to include trade facilitation - CEPS Boss

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Accra, March 17, GNA - Although the traditional role of customs administrations is revenue collection, customs operations are rapidly evolving to include trade facilitation, combating commercial fraud and terrorism, the Commissioner of Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) said on Thursday.

Brigadier-General Richardson E. Baiden noted that these additional roles placed an enormous responsibility on Customs administrations worldwide.

This is especially in the Ghanaians circumstances where the total tax revenue mobilised by CEPS constituted over 55 per cent of government revenue, Brig.-Gen. Baiden said.

He was speaking at a press conference to highlight activities of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Regional conference for Customs Administration Director-Generals of West and Central Africa to be held in Accra from March 23 to 25.

The Conference under the theme, "Security and Trade Facilitation: A Challenge for Customs Administration in the 21st Century," would bring together heads of Customs administrations from 22 West and Central African countries.

Brig.-Gen. Baiden said the misconception about the attitude of customs officials was perhaps focused on the revenue generation functions of Customs administrations.

"In Ghana and indeed Africa, the mere mention of customs operations evokes images of corruption, graft, greed, bureaucracy to the extent that even commercial fraud is attributed erroneously to customs officials."

He said the prime perpetrator of commercial fraud was the business community, trader and traveller even though in some instances these offences were perpetrated with the active connivance of customs and port officials.

Brig-Gen. Baiden said: "Maintaining free and expeditious flow of goods and people while applying controls to combat fraud and maximizing revenue collection is not an easy task.

"Happily, the WCO has developed a framework of standard to secure and facilitate global trade from the country of origin to the country of consignment. These standards are to promote customs-to-customs networking and customs to business partnership."

He said some of the principles laid down by the WCO included the use of pre-arrival information, application of risk management, automated systems, establishment of effective consultative relationships with customs trading partners and other stakeholders and providing a system of dispute settlement in customs matters especially valuation and capacity building.

Mrs Comfort Boahene-Osafo, Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Research, Monitoring and Information, said 47 delegates and one observer from Burundi and two from the United States were expected at the Conference. 17 March 05

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