The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has partnered five organisations to tackle corruption in customs operations for enhanced revenue mobilisation and trade facilitation.
The organisations are the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Office of the Head of Civil Service, Committee of Freight Forwarders’ Association (CoFFA) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
The partnership is dubbed, ‘Fighting Corruption and Promoting Integrity through Collective Action.’
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It forms part of the Anti-Corruption and Integrity Promotion (A-CIP) Programme rolled out by the WCO in 2019 to restrict corrupt behavior and promotes good governance in customs operations and administration in Ghana and seven other countries.
The A-CIP Programme is also aimed at realising the objectives of the WCO Revised Arusha Declaration provides customs administrations with a practical approach for anti-corruption policies and practices as stipulated in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Article 5 in order to reduce and eventually eliminate opportunities for corruption.
At a workshop in Accra yesterday to assess Ghana’s progress on the Collective Action since 2019, Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei Asare, in a speech read on her behalf, said corruption was a huge challenge to the country’s development, hence the many initiatives such as the establishment of the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) to deal with the menace.
She said the government recognises the need for collaboration between institutions and other stakeholders to work together towards dealing with corruption.
As a critical institution in government’s efforts to mobilise revenue, she noted that, there was the need for high level of integrity and professionalism, especially for staff in avoiding corrupt practices.
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The partnership, Mrs Osei-Asare, said, provides the GRA with the opportunity to institute globally-approved and time-tested anti-corruption mechanisms in its operations to clamp down on corruption
She reiterated the government’s commitment to work with all relevant groups in developing appropriate measures to prevent corruption in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy.
Deputy Commissioner of Operations, GRA, Baffour Anane Asare indicated that the perceived lack of integrity and presence of corruption could destroy the legitimacy of a customs administration and severely limit its capacity to effectively accomplish its mission.
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With the assistance of the WCO, he said, the GRA had prioritised the strengthening of its internal control mechanisms and the improvement in the public perception and confidence in GRA customs operations and administration.
To achieve this, he noted that, the GRA customs was focused on enhancing collaboration with other anti-corruption stakeholders including Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII).
Also, Mr Asare stated that, the Authority had engaged the private sector measure performance integrity perception and build synergies with parallel change initiatives.
He urged the partners to work closely with the GRA to enhance integrity and curb corruption, saying that “the fight against corruption and the promotion of integrity are the responsibility of all of us and need collective action to be successful.”
Ms Scarlet Wannenwetsch, Collective Action Specialist, Basel Institute on Governance, said, the risk of corruption could negatively affect investments in the country, hence the need for Ghana to adapt existing mechanisms to curb corruption.
As a major stakeholder in international trading, she explained that, promoting integrity and anti-corruption in customs was crucial to enhancing effective customs administration, improving trade facilitation, and ultimately strengthens economic development.
This, she said required that customs authorities establish and maintain a collaborative dialogue with the private sector to identify corruption risks, design and implement effective anti-corruption policies.
“Collective action can be an effective tool to improve customs policies and procedures as well as their implementation and support anti-corruption efforts towards creating a fairer business environment,” she added
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS