GRA DG advocates information flow among sub-regional customs officials

BorderMr George Blankson, Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), on Monday stated the need to develop appropriate regional strategies for speedy exchange of information to stem cross-border crimes.

“We risk losing the benefits of modernising our tax systems if the opportunities for exchanging and sharing information and intelligence are either weak or non-existent. The high incidence of cross-border crimes and their de-stabilising effects on our countries cannot be downplayed” he said.

Mr Blankson made the remark at the opening ceremony of the 10th meeting of the Regional Expert Group for the World Custom Organisation (WCO) West and Central Africa Region in Accra.

The meeting that was held on the theme: “Innovations in Customs: A Catalyst for Regional Capacity Building”, was to give participants the opportunity to make recommendations for the smooth conduct of the upcoming 18th conference of Director- Generals of Customs Administration for the WCO West and Central Africa Region.

Mr Blankson said it was necessary to show strong commitment to the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of information, and called for dialogue on how to enhance tax information exchange agreements among member countries.

He said the theme re-affirmed the growing demand for international dialogue, greater regional cooperation and strong policy support.

“We certainly need to work together to address the common challenges that confront us as regional group”, Mr Blankson said.

He said there was the need to put in place innovative initiatives that would promote and encourage voluntary tax compliance in a fair, transparent and flexible manner.

Mr Blankson said: “Global trade is changing so rapidly that it has engendered a high sense of insecurity in the global supply chain. Confronting this challenge calls for a new customs that will be more visible and proactive in protecting society and safeguarding national security”.

He said the sub-region needed a permanent platform where tax practitioners, tax policy advisors and other experienced tax operatives could dialogue on regular basis to address the emerging challenges of tax administration.

Mr Blankson called for leveraging of resources in the sub-region to minimize the financial burden on individual countries, which were struggling to handle taxation systems, adding that there was the need for a long term and regional view of the tax reform agenda.

Mr Bernard Zbinden, Representative, WCO, said the meeting would help exchange knowledge and experience between various customs experts, as well as evaluate progress reports of the last experts meeting.

He called on customs administrations to come up with best practices to reform operations in their respective countries.

“Customs administrations must try to reform themselves, nobody will”.

Dr Daniel M Jatau, Representative of the Vice-President of the WCO West and Central Africa, lamented that officials were not able to make good use of the information technology platforms available to freely share information among one another.

He said the Customs sector was also confronted with the challenge of lack of confidence in the officials by the public.

Source: GNA

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