The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Friday joined the global Customs community to mark the International Customs Day celebration instituted by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in Accra.
The event, under the theme: “A secure business environment for economic development”, was well attended by Customs officers as well as stakeholders, partner government agencies and private organisations.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng in a speech read on behalf of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, called on Customs to reassess its work in order to contribute to the creation of safe and secure business environment to attract both local and foreign investors.
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Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng
He said businesses that are in connection with Customs activities meant international trade, and added that making the country’s borders safe and secure would attract more international trade players in the sub-region.
He said Customs had greater stake in the development of the country as its one of the key revenue mobilization institutions.
Mr Kwarteng also admonished them (Customs) to apply technology and international standards to increase the volumes of international trade across the country’s borders and entry points.
Some dignitaries at the event
He, however, entreated Customs officials to eschew all forms of corrupt acts at contacts points and focused on their core mandate.
Reading a speech on behalf of the Secretary-General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, the Commissioner-General of Ghana’s Customs, Mr Isaac Crentsil, said “combating cross-border crime, including the illicit funding of international terrorism through trade activities, is our responsibility, and one that Customs takes seriously in its efforts to ensure a safe environment”.
He said this year’s theme also echoes the current Customs focus on trade facilitation, created by the entry into force of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement as well as the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives meeting at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York in September 2015 to decide on new global “sustainable development goals.”
The Commissioner-General of Ghana’s Customs, Mr. Isaac Crentsil
In addition, he said, the theme also supports efforts aimed at unleashing the potential of women in business, or female entrepreneurs, as a means to enhance enterprise development, create more employment, and alleviate poverty.
Mr Crentsil said WCO would continue “to enhance the promotion of relevant tools, instruments and initiatives as well as the work being done in areas as diverse as combating cross-border crime, engagement with stakeholders, data collection and analysis, digitalization of Customs services, effective management of cross-border e-Commerce transactions, standardization of information exchange, strengthening Customs-Tax cooperation, tackling trade mis-invoicing and fighting corruption, to name a few”.
A section of the participants
He said providing a secure environment for business would create incentives for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to expand their activities to participate more fully in international trade, as well as encourage them to innovate, generate employment and invest in human resources, thereby boosting economic growth and raising living standards.
The Director in Charge of the Tema Port, Mr Edward Kofi Osei, in an address said 60 per cent of Ghana’s total revenue comes through the Port.
He said the Port contributes highly to the revenue generation of the country as a result of its good policies and measures which are attracting both importers and exporters, including countries from the sub-region.
A section of the participants
He said factors such as improved and efficient clearing of goods by both importers and exporters have made the port attractive to importers and exporters, hence soaring the port’s revenue inflows.
He mentioned countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso passed their goods through the port due to the security provided to their cargoes.
He said, for instance, that vessels meant for other countries in the sub-region, particularly Nigeria, dock at the Tema Port for days on end before leaving to their expected destination due to the secure nature of Ghana’s port for their cargoes.
Mr Osei, who was making a presentation on the activities of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and its impacts on Customs operations said the partnership between Customs and GPHA was to make Ghana a leading hub and beacon of trade and industry in the sub-region through an efficient border.
The Director in Charge of the Tema Port, Mr. Edward Kofi Osei
He pledged that GPHA would continue to work with Customs in order to mobilise revenue for the government, adding that “Customs is a key stakeholder to the GPHA”.
Some institutions and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the area of creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive were recognised with citations and certificates for their efforts.