Sunyani (B/A) Nov. 7, GNA -Mr. Christopher Larweh, National Chairman of Senior Staff Association of Customs Excise and Preventive Service said in Sunyani that the Association believed the government could do more to eliminate the leakages in revenue collection. Speaking at the opening of 15 annual delegates conference of the association, he said the system could be crafted to become more efficient and effective.
The four-day conference, under the theme: "Overcoming obstacles to better conditions of service - imperatives and challenges", will review the performance of the Association in the past year and examine possible ways of improving performance and creating and maintaining a better working environment to enhance revenue collection. Mr. Larweh, a Senior Collector, said the Association was at a loss as to why the Government had chosen Takoradi Port as the only approved route for the importation of textiles, "when we know that there is a large market for textile trade between Togo and the Volta Region".
Mr. Larweh that the nation was losing so much in revenue collection since the new directive, as most traders were using other unapproved routes to import textiles into the country and called for a second look at the policy.
He said the large over-aged and seized cars parked at Tema Port and the Airport barracks were a huge potential source of revenue, which the government must turn into liquid cash immediately by enacting the appropriate legislation to support it.
Mr. Larweh said the Service was supposed to collect 12.6 trillion cedis this year alone to help the government finance developmental projects, but said this herculean task could be achieved without available corresponding inputs.
He complained that the Service had no offices in most of the regional capitals, no vehicles with which to go on patrols, nor encouraging remuneration packages, among others.
The national chairman however, noted that with all the challenges facing the Service, its staff had not "thrown in the towel yet," saying one of the major objectives of the Association was to help management realize the annual targets that government had set for the Service.
Mr. Larweh appealed to senior staff of the Service to increase their supervision of junior officers to eliminate greed and corruption. He referred to the Security and Intelligence Agency Act 1996 (Act 526) making the Police Service and all employees of Security Agencies, including CEPS entitled to retirement benefits and appealed to Government to put the service back on Cap 30.
Major General Richardson E. Baiden, Commissioner of CEPS in a speech read for him reiterated the fact that, "our future is in our hands" and urged them to eschew negative practices that undermined revenue collection efforts.
"Members of the Association must see themselves as part of management and strive to recognize the necessity of good governance buttressed by the principles of transparency, honesty, sound management principles, honesty and commitment to duty.
"We need to change our mindsets where CEPS is seen as a gold mine", he added and asked them to support management in pursuing strategies in support of national policy measures aimed at revamping the private sector and reducing poverty.
Brigadier Richardson asked the senior staff to adopt measures that would enhance staff effectiveness, staff satisfaction and career opportunities, stressing that these could be achieved if they allowed the creation of an atmosphere where industrial democracy thrived. Major Gen. Baiden noted that the Association had been very supportive of management, saying they were not oblivious of the obstacles and challenges that confronted the Service. In an address read for him, Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister reminded the senior staff of their responsibility and urged them to always let dedication and patriotism be their hallmark in the performance of their duties.
He said the Service was the first line of defence of the national economy and security and their failure to live up to their responsibilities would definitely lead to chaos, not only for the running of the government machinery but in the import and export business.
In a welcoming address, Mr. Imoru Farouk Adams, Sunyani Sector Commander of CEPS said the current crisis in Cote d'Ivoire had crippled the once booming cross border trade existing between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, resulting in a sharp decline in the Service's revenue collection.
"The deplorable state of roads leading to the frontier stations, especially during the rainy season in its attendant rate of accidents have continued to discourage importers from doing business through the collection", he said.
Mr. Adams appealed to the Regional Minister to put the construction of the roads leading to the frontier stations high on the agenda to reverse the trend.
He said the Sunyani Collection covered the whole of the political region of Brong-Ahafo and the Oseikojokrom sub-sector in the Western Region. The Collection comprised nine stations namely the Sunyani office, Gonokrom, Sampa, Kwameseikrom, Oseikojokrom, Nkrankwanta, Kofibadukrom, Yaakrom and Atuna frontier stations.