Friday, September 24, 2010

Disquiet in CEPS Over New Integration Policy

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday September 21, 2010
THERE IS growing disquiet among staff of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), following the introduction of the new integration policy.

The new policy, introduced by Government to shore up revenue generation, now relieves CEPS of certain core functions and concentrates these under the direct supervision of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

However, personnel of CEPS have complained that this development would promote bureaucracy under the GRA.

Sources at CEPS told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that there are speculations that the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) is likely to take over the preventive functions of CEPS.

They said even though CEPS was a paramilitary institution, the new arrangement would put it directly under the control of a civilian head.

“Our worry is how we are going to join civilian institutions like Value Added Tax (VAT) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Once an autonomous institution, we will be a division under the GRA.

“Our status as a paramilitary institution has not changed yet about three of our deputies have already been drafted into the support services under the authority.”

The aggrieved personnel continued that CEPS could not operate efficiently and effectively since the Administrative, Research, Monitoring and Finance departments of the service have been taken to different divisions under GRA.

They added that funds for the operation of the preventive wing of the service have been delayed because the process for collection has had to go through the Support Service Commissioner at VAT before clearance, thereby slowing down their operations.

Another issue they raised was the delay in the payment of their salary last month which caused them a lot of embarrassment.

“There is speculation that a lot of CEPS staff are going to be placed under the support services,” they noted.

They also complained about the absence of a sensitization programme for CEPS under the integration system, adding that they did not know the essence of the GRA Skills Audit questionnaire that was distributed to CEPS staff.

They noted the Commissioner of CEPS would not have a say at the GRA Board.

Additionally, there were no new conditions of service for GRA though integration process had started.

It would be recalled that Martin Amidu, Minister of Interior, announced that Government had approved a proposal for border patrol teams for the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to use weapons.

According to him, that formed part of efforts by Government to review existing legislation and policies, as well as conditions of service of immigration personnel to promote capacity and effective vigilance at the borders.

Mr. Amidu, who disclosed this at the graduation ceremony of the second batch of recruits of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) of Liberia at the Ghana Immigration Training School, Assin Fosu in the Central Region, noted that the reforms and strategies were critical to emerging democracies in the sub-region.

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