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General News Tue, 8 Aug 2006

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Gov't to Block Corrupt Practices At the Ports

THE GOVERNMENT intends to throw the searchlight to the country's entry points to block all manner of corrupt practices that have denied the state the needed revenues for development.

Government, it is said, has taken a serious view of allegations of malfeasance, extortion and corruption made against Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) officials at the ports.

This paper supports the decision of government to plug these holes that have been detrimental to the country's income-generating agenda. It is true that government is currently facing some financial difficulties. This is due to the fact that there is a tremendous pressure on government's coffers, and it is therefore great news that government has finally decided to remove this canker, which affords some unscrupulous persons the opportunity to pocket the monies needed for development.

Ghanaians should have by now known that the removal of the ad valorem tax on petroleum products would definitely affect government's projected revenue, for while government had projected to collect about 26 trillion cedis in taxes with petroleum products contributing 4.148 trillion cedis, the removal of that tax is going to cripple the projected tax revenue by 50 billion cedis.

The Chronicle agrees with the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning that CEPS is a respectable institution and there is the need to protect its integrity from the few disgruntled staff who are tarnishing the image of the entire Service.

But what government intends to do is a big Herculean task. All the borders are now the 'cocoa fields' or 'gold mines' for the CEPS personnel at these borders and ports. While those with nothing to declare are harassed 'to do something' because of 'this or that', the actual smugglers know the chemistry to enable them escape the payment of taxes on their goods or under-invoiced the goods for the payment of the wrong duties.

We do however know that there are patriotic officials in the CEPS who are doing their best to help the government and country achieve its developmental goals. And now that the Immigration Service will be taking over the prevention duties of CEPS, we hope things will change for the better.

Government should however be advised not to drive a wedge between these two state organs by its new policy of transferring some aspect of the job of CEPS to the Immigration Service.

These two Services at the ports and harbours should not regard each others as enemies but try to live harmoniously, working for the good of the country. We do not have any country but Ghana and no one should be seen to be sabotaging its efforts to higher heights.

It is gratifying that the Deputy Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Mr. Kwame Osei-Prempeh, said his Ministry was alert and would assist in the fight against all forms of malfeasance in the country, and that the Ministry had teamed up with the Finance Ministry and others to work together to generate the needed revenue to enhance national development.

It therefore means that while the government is trying to resource both the Immigration Service and CEPS, all hands of all Ghanaians should be on deck to achieve this fight against all forms of corruption and malpractices at the ports.

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

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