MEMBERS of the Senior Staff Association of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Service (GRA) have ended their 20th annual national delegates conference at Ejisu, near Kumasi with a call on staff to redouble their efforts at revenue collection.
The chairman of the association, Mr Junior Appiah-Warden, said at the conference that a lot depended on the customs division of GRA to help government advance its development initiatives, stressing that the division could, therefore, not afford to play to the gallery.
He stated that the customs division was “way behind this year’s national revenue target, yet in Kumasi alone, there were over 200 seized saloon cars and a fleet of mini buses, which could be auctioned to rake in revenue for the state, had been sitting there and getting rotten.
Appiah-Warden, therefore, called on management to conduct auctions of seized items, especially hundreds of vehicles at various customs posts in the country, to help the government get the needed revenue to undertake its infrastructure and other economic activities to better the living standards of the people.
The three-day conference was on the theme: “Senior Staff Association of Customs Division of GRA: Contemporary Issues.”
Mr Appiah-Warden mentioned the negative media attention the division had received this year and said ”given the circumstances under which we work, we are not as dirty as it is often portrayed.”
He expressed concern that for three years, customs officers had not been provided with uniforms and their accoutrements, and, therefore, called for the retooling of officers to enable them to perform.
The Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr George Blankson, emphasised that the integration process of the GRA would not lead to loss of jobs in any of the three affected revenue agencies.
Agencies affected by the integration are the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service.
Allaying the growing fears of workers within the agencies, Mr Blankson said the process was being approached in a way to ensure that no member of staff would also suffer any loss in rank or diminution of emoluments.
He said labour was deeply involved in the change process and that workers needed not to fear about the security of their jobs.
Mr Blankson stated that integration would involve the redefinition of job schedules leading to review of staff placement and transfer and reassignment of staff to the various divisions, adding that conditions of service would be enhanced under the GRA.
He informed the conference that members of the various associations within the GRA would be placed in three different sections, namely customs division, domestic tax division and support services division.
The board chairman of GRA, Mr Ernest Kwesie, said the authority was determined to achieve the national revenue target.
Consequently, he said, it was tightening up tax revenue activities between now and December 31 at the ports, harbours and border posts.
Mr Kwesie gave the assurance that the board and management of the GRA would ensure that the appropriate orders and operational instructions were prepared to enhance the implementation of the customs procedures relating to the budget.