Mr. Felix Mate-Kodjo, Sector Commander, Customs Division.GRA, Tema Port, at a press briefing said “we came across a clearing agent called Simana Logistics Limited who had declared some items that attracted a lower rate of duty (5 per cent), but when the consignment were opened they were found to contain mobile phones and about fifty other items that would have attracted GH¢60000 revenue.
“So what we want to say is that, in as much as Customs would like to create a platform to enable people to clear their goods very quickly, people shouldn’t take advantage to cheat the system,” he warned.
“We started paperless transactions on the first of September, and the essence is to ensure facilitation so that compliant importers cleared their goods in a relatively shorter time. The idea is that those who did the right thing should be rewarded to clear their items within a very short time,” he informed.
Mr. Mate-Kodjo observed that some agents had taken advantage of the focus on facilitation to cheat the system.
He explained further by saying that, “What they normally do is to declare goods that are not on the customs’ declarations and make away with revenue that runs into tens of thousands of Cedis.”
He assured the public of the readiness of his outfit to identify people who would want to take advantage, saying that “we are up and doing in the course of our work.”
He said intelligence gathering and arrest were activities usually undertaken in the course of their work “but we normally do not go out there to tell the public, so we deemed it necessary to do so this time.”
According to him, in such a situation, the culprit would pay a penalty not exceeding three times the duty involved plus the duty itself and probably prosecuted.
Mr. Edward Osei, Chief Revenue Officer in Charge of Preventive, observed “that the paperless transaction which had been rolled out is a fantastic idea from the government.”
“The advantages are too numerous to recount. But we also want to tell the importing public and agents that for the paperless system to be effective and for us to reap the benefits that will come from it, they should be compliant enough. They should be sincere with themselves, do legal business with us and shouldn’t do anything that will undermine revenue collection and our security.”
He said even though they were facilitating trade, which was a great idea, they would not relent in their resolve to expose those criminals who would take advantage of the system, adding that “that is why the Preventive is being encouraged to be extra vigilant on us.”
He said, “We are not compromising revenue and we will not jeopardize security, and so we will want to send the warning out there that those who think they can outwit the system because it is a new system, will have to rethink because we are out to expose them.”