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27 September 2016

Customs’ officials charged to live above reproach

cepsDirector of Anti-Corruption at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Charles Ayamdoo has charged officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to live above reproach and make their duty an important component of government business.

“Building integrity in Ghana and for that matter GRA is critical. Integrity is an important component in our struggle to deal with the canker of corruption, as it is an important tool for changing systems, values and mindset rather than blaming individuals,” he said.

Mr. Ayamdoo told the Customs officials at a closing ceremony of a three-day training-of trainers workshop organised by the GRA in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for some selected Custom officers, as part of efforts to position division as a transparent and accountable institution.

The training also forms part of the reform agenda, focused on ethics and anti-corruption in the service, and the beneficiary officers resolved to help promote integrity in the service.

Dominic Sam, UNDP Country Director, in a speech read on his behalf said: “Customs are vital to every country as all sectors of economies are impacted by Customs activities. Thus Customs administrations are strategically positioned to facilitate trade and encourage investment, which positively contributes to the economic growth and development of the nations they serve.

“Given their essential role, Customs Administrations the world over are among at organisations most vulnerable to many kinds of corruption from passive bribery to substantial fraud.”

He said any country that seeks to facilitate trade and make economic progress must be able to put in place an effective Customs administration, adding that UNDP will always promote initiatives aimed at improving the integrity of public agencies.

“For Customs to achieve the level of transparency and accountability envisioned requires an integrated approach and collaboration of other development partners, public and private partnerships and government as a whole is required.

“As the benefit of strengthening Customs functions improves Ghana’s economy by contributing to a stable and enabling environment for cross-border trade and investments,” he said.

He entreated participants to impart the acquired knowledge with their fellow officers at their duty stations to help deepen responsibility and loyalty to the organisation and thereby promoting integrity.

Commissioner of Customs Division of the GRA John K. Vianney, said a trainee’s manual and plan had been developed to continuously build the capacity of the staff in the integrity initiative, adding that they were using the beneficiary officers who he called ‘focal persons’ to lead the campaign.

“These initiatives are part of a country-wide plan to reorient Custom officers, and to infuse in them the tenets of professionalism, higher ethics and renewed sense of discipline,” he stated.

He indicated that GRA has launched two telephone hotlines that will enable the public and other stakeholders to report corruption related issues to the authority, and that “these hotlines will complement other media channels available to the public who seek information on tax matters, and to report on poor customer services by staff.”

 

Source: B&FT

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