President John Evans Atta Mills yesterday turned the heat on officials of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) when he hit hard at some of them by accusing them of aiding smugglers in defrauding the country of millions in revenue.
Lamenting on the high level of corruption within the CEPS, President Mills, in a rare show of anger and in rather uncharacteristic harsh tone said, what he witnessed, buttressed reports of the connivance by some CEPS officials together with other economic saboteurs in fleecing the nation.
“Today CEPS; I’m telling you, I’m also getting a team to go round and oversee your operations, I’m not hiding it. Because, we own Mother Ghana something. The people who are crying in the streets, the people who are saying there are no jobs, the people who are saying that the economy is not working for them. You cannot have a strong and viable economy without the necessary resources and CEPS, must live up to its expectation and its standard, because in quite a number of cases we are under-collecting. If I ever doubted that…some of the people in CEPS were really working against the economy, what I saw with my own eyes and heard with my ear, convinced me beyond any reasonable doubt, that, if this is a person who has sworn to work in the interest of our nation and he can boast so brazenly and even aide smugglers to carry up cocoa across the border, I am saying my brothers and sisters, this is the time for introspection,” he charged.
President Mills passed these comments when he paid an unannounced visit today to some of the nation’s revenue collecting agencies.
Activities at the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), the Value Added Tax (VAT) Secretariat, the Finance Ministry and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) literally grounded to a halt when His Excellency continued with his extraordinary unannounced visits to some state institutions.
On Thursday, April 1st, President Mills paid a surprise historic visit to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital and said he was drawn to the hospital by the mounting challenges the hospital and mental health care system in general faced and promised to give the necessary assistance to solve those problems.
Whiles CEPS is the state organization responsible for the collection of taxes levied on Imports, Exports and some locally manufactured goods, the IRS, has the unique role of identifying the taxpayer, assess the taxpayer to tax, collect the tax and penalties assessed and pay all amounts collected into the Consolidated Fund to aid in National Development.
But the operations of these institutions, most especially the CEPS, have come under some intense media scrutiny and savoury attacks by some well-meaning Ghanaians.
Addressing staff of the Finance Ministry, President Mills said his administration is always mindful of the sacred obligation to build a Better Ghana and will lived up to expectations, at the end of its four year tenure in office.
“We’re not insensitive; we’re not in the Castle because every morning the Governor brings us loads and loads of cash to sit on and to sleep on. We’re there because we’re cognizant of the sacred obligation that has been thrust on us to build a Better Ghana…No gov’t starts afresh.
Every gov’t has to continue from where others have left off; this is what some people conveniently forget. But Criticisms there will be, noises there will be. But noises and criticisms can never drown the sacred facts on the ground. We’re on a journey; we’ve a four year mandate and we’re always aware that the people of Ghana have reposed confidence in us. And the least that we can do is to ensure that we justify this confidence,” he stated.