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Customs Takes Steps To Salvage Image   
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The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has organized special training for some of its officers as part of efforts to position customs as a transparent and accountable institution.

The three-day course, which forms part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reform agenda, focused on ethics and anti-corruption in the service, and the beneficiary officers resolved to help promote integrity in customs.

In their communiqué, the participating officers urged management of customs to “take ownership of the integrity initiative.

They also tasked the management to “be firm, committed, transparent and efficient in the implementation of rules and regulations and policies of the customs.”

According to the trainees, the internal anti-corruption units in the customs should be brought under one unit and strengthened in the fight against corruption.

At a short closing ceremony, 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,” the commissioner said.

He said GRA has launched two telephone hotlines that will enable the public and other stakeholders to report corruption related issues to the authority, saying “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.”

A representative from the UNDP said any country that seeks to facilitate trade and make economic progress must be able to put in place an effective customs administration.

She said customs administrations all over the world over are among organizations that are vulnerable to many kinds of “corruption from passive bribery to substantial fraud.”

She said the 2011 Global Integrity Report found that trading route checkpoints in Ghana foster corruption and the perception was corroborated by the 2014 Global Enabling Trade Report.

She said that steps being taken by customs to reverse the trend were reassuring.

Director of Anti-Corruption at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Charles Ayamdoo, who was one of the resource persons, urged the officers to live above reproach and make customs an important component of government business.

He said “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.
Source: Daily Guide

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