By Laudia Sawer
Tema, July 11, GNA – The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has organized a two-day seminar for Customs officials and stakeholders in Tema on the Custom Act 2015 (ACT 891) and related issues.
The seminar is to sensitize participants on the provisions of the Act, Legislative Instruments (LI) and other amendments governing the operations of Custom.
Dr Godfred Okoh-Appiah, Tema Customs Sector Commander, opening the seminar, said Customs’ work was regulated and governed by laws which operators must be conversant with.
Dr Okoh-Appiah added that GRA had observed that some officers were still making reference to old Acts and LIs in their day-to-day operations.
He stated for instance that even though LI 22 (48) enjoined officers to even release warehousing goods after 17:00 hours, some officials refused to release goods after 15:00 hours quoting old laws that had been amended.
He therefore urged all officers to be abreast of the Customs operations laws as the lack of their knowledge negatively affected trade and investment.
Miss Doris Agbetsise, a member of GRA’s legal team, educating participants reiterated the need to understand the laws, reminded them that every provision in the Custom Act must be obeyed to the later as they were quasi-criminal and statutory provision, therefore offending it was punishable by law.
Miss Agbetsise therefore urged all Customs officers to acquire all the Acts, LIs and Amendments covering their operations to enable them discharge their duties effectively and avoid breaking the law.
The Acts included the GRA Act, Customs Regulations and Revenue Administration, and Customs Act as well as amended laws such as the ones for the National Single Window System, Vehicle Parts Exemption and the Common External Tariff.
She reminded them that her department was well equipped to prosecute any officer and stakeholder who went contrary to the law, stating that they were currently prosecuting some people for infractions.
‘Be compliant and more diligent when working, don’t allow anybody or stakeholder to put you into trouble’, she said.
She added that the objectives of the Acts included optimizing revenue collection, stressing that ‘a custom officer must know how firm they must be while doing everything and anything to optimize trade’.
She further said every officer should see himself as a preventive officer and therefore must ensure that all needed procedures were adhered to during clearing of goods.
Touching on exemptions of taxes on goods imported by non-governmental organizations, Miss Agbetsise said it was illegal to exempt taxes without approval from the Minister of Finance or Parliament.
She explained that the law stated that NGOs needed recommendations from either the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Health which was to be approved by the Ministry of Finance or Parliament before an exemption could be granted.