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General News of Thursday, 10 February 2011

Source: GNA

Customs Service transfers 97 officers after Anas' expose on corruption

Accra, Feb. 10, GNA - The Commissioner of Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has relocated and transferred 97 customs staff as part of measures to revamp the Division to make it more responsive and effective.

The move is also to revitalise the human resource capacity of the Division to make use of specialised skills, experience and qualities of personnel following reservations expressed by stakeholders about the qualit= y of service and alleged unprofessional conduct by some Custom staff. A release issued on Wednesday by Mr Robert Mensah, Chief Collector and Client Relations officer of the Division in Accra, said the relocation of the officers covered nine sectors of the Division.

The affected are 27 officers from the Head Office in Accra, 47 from Tema Port, 17 from Jamestown, 3 from the Kotoka International Airport, 2 from Elubo, one each from Ho, Bolgatanga and Takoradi. The release said the relocation of staff also recognised the need to balance the human, financial and logistical resources available, adding tha= t the exercise did not impose any financial constraints or unduly distort family livelihoods of the affected staff.

"Meanwhile the Commissioner has instituted a couple of measures including human capacity building to ensure that the Division fulfils its mandate of assessing, collecting, accounting and protecting all taxes due,= " it said.

The release said the Customs Division remained committed to delivering professional customer service and to ensure that discipline and integrity were the hallmarks of fulfilling the expectations of government, taxpayers and the public.

It stated that the Division was ready to receive any complaints relating to misconduct of its staff, adding that hotline telephone numbers would soon be made available to the public as an avenue for resolving issues, as well as seeking information on policies and processes.

An investigation by a journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, uncovered considerable rot at the Tema Port forcing President John Evans Atta Mills t= o make an unannounced visit to the Port last Friday to warn customs officials= , port workers and clearing agents against their nefarious activities.

President Mills directed that people aspiring to join the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority be made to declare their assets. Angered by the nefarious activities of customs and port officials at th= e nation's entry points, President Mills cautioned the officials Government would not spare the rod on corrupt officials. He said if people thought it was only the politicians who were corrupt= , the evidence was now clear for all to see that other office holders in stat= e institutions were equally as corrupt as some politicians.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas' investigative report titled "Enemies of the Natio= n," revealed cases of collusion with auctioneers, bribery of customs officials, and a rift between the Customs Division and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority over revenue collection.

There was also evidence of how some Customs officials engaged in illici= t sexual acts with businesswomen with the promise of securing them goods and contracts to work within the Tema area.

President Mills expressed worry at the canker at the Ports, and urged the law enforcement agencies not to relax the punishment meted out to corrupt Customs officials. 10 Feb. 11