Business News of 2013-12-16

Staff of GRA worried about inadequate staff strength

The senior and junior staff of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has expressed concern about their inadequate staff strength, saying, the situation has undermined effective and efficient collection and protection of revenue generation in the country.

At a joint national delegates’ conference of the Junior and Senior Staff Association of the Customs Division of the GRA held at Fumeasua, the members also observed that the lack of recruits to strengthen their number over the years was affecting effective protection of the borders across the country.

“Customs is gradually losing its responsibility to protect our borders because of the dwindling numbers and aging officers. Customs officers are becoming endangered spices at all the stations and outposts,” the Chairman of the association, Alhaji Seidu Iddrisu, bemoaned during an address.

He said, “Lack of recruitment over the years has reduced the staff strength at most border stations to about one-fourth of the staff strength in the early 1990s.” “Officers are worried that as a result of the persistent lack of recruitment and aging staff among others, the Customs Division is gradually losing its role in border management.”

“Border security is a very important aspect of the overall security of every country. This is because though borders are potential sources of benefits to a country through revenue generation, they also constitute sources of detriment if adequate protection is not provided,” he noted.

A total of 120 senior and junior staff of the association attended the three-day joint conference which was on the theme; “The Change process under scrutiny; Relevance and direction of the Staff Associations.”

The national delegate’s conference offered a platform for the members to air their views on issues undermining effective revenue mobilisation and security at the borders.

Appealing to the government to strengthen their numbers through recruitment, Alhaji Iddrisu said while the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) had over the last few years recruited hundreds of personnel for the enhancement of their operations, the GRA, mandated to protect the borders of the country and also collect revenue to pay the staff of the GIS, had been restrained to make such recruitments to enhance their operations.

Expressing concern about that situation, he noted, “The protection and maintenance of national security in all nations commences at its borders. The recent upsurge in illicit drug importation and availability of small arms and light weapons used by armed robbers are but a few consequences of our porous borders,” he lamented during his address.

On their revenue generation, he said they could not meet their target this year, explaining that “leakages within the system are partly responsible for the situation.”

“The Senior Staff Association is of the view that as operational staff, supervisors and middle-level managers, it is our responsibility to make sure that measures put in place by the board and top management to efficiently collect and protect revenue are properly implemented and enforced,” he suggested.

Stressing, he said “It is partly as a result of our failure to effectively carry out these roles that has partly contributed to this failure to live up to the expectation of the public and has brought the authority, especially the Customs Division, into negative limelight in recent times,” he confessed.

The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr George Blankson, urged the members to devise innovational means of boosting revenue collection and protection. “You must use this conference to brainstorm and come out with various ideas, plans, proposals, strategies and recommendations on the best way forward in maximizing revenue,” he advised.

He assured that the management had made it a priority to provide the requisite logistics and basic working tools that would enhance their operations. For his part, the Commissioner of Customs, Mr Farouk Adams, urged the members to use the platform to instill a new sense of commitment to the national cause in the framework of revenue collection and security.

“You should step up your preventive functions to stem the incidents of smuggling on various illegal routes such as waterways and overland, particularly in the transit regime,” he advised.