By Kofi Ampeah-Woode

The Commissioner of Customs of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) – Colonel (Col) Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd), has asked personnel of the Customs Division of GRA posted to the country’s Eastern and Western frontiers, to be extra alert against fertilizer smuggling, as apart from its adverse effect on food and cocoa production, it could also be used as improvised explosive devices (IED) by Violent Extremists (VE).

The Commissioner, who was the Reviewing Officer (RO) at the SENIOR CADET COURSE 1 (2021) Passing Out Parade of Forty-Nine (49) – which comprised of 16 females, on Thursday 26th August, 2021, at the GRA Academy, Kpetoe, Agortime, in the Adaklu-Anyigbe District of the Volta Region of Ghana, gave the directive, in a speech.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that we have security within and along our borders and in our communities, so if you find yourselves at the frontiers as the first line of defence, then know that if you make it possible for unscrupulous persons to smuggle fertilizers, you would also be helping them to make explosives to attack our country”, Col Damoah asserted.

Additionally, the Customs Commissioner reminded the graduands that they were at the academy in a critical time in history, when the whole world is reeling under the ravages and the cascading effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet they are required to perform their full complement of being part of the security architecture of the country.

On the Division’s revenue collection, the Commissioner revealed that despite the effects of the pandemic, Customs of GRA was able to exceed its assigned revenue target last year, by One Billion, Six Hundred Million Cedis (GHS1,6Bn), however, he urged the Division not to rest on its oars, but work to exceed given targets for the current financial year.

Col Damoah (Rtd) informed the new Officers that Customs has an arduous task of raising an amount of GHS65 Bn by the end of the year, but expressed confidence in the youthful batch that they would compliment the efforts of their seniors and other colleagues, to ensure that Ghana gets the resources needed for her development.

On the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AcFTA) Agreement, the Customs Commissioner revealed that, Ghana, being the headquarters of the Trade protocol, imposes a huge responsibility on Customs, since it is expected to perform six out of the nine records of transaction.

He additionally reminded all personnel that government is earnestly seeking for revenue to undertake the development of social infrastructure, notable among which is popularly dubbed “Agenda 111” – the construction of 111 hospitals for all districts that have none, including some 6 Regional and psychiatric hospitals, and that the GRA must ensure that whatever revenue targets are set for it, are achieved.

Finally, Col Damoah (Rtd) asked the graduands to be proud of themselves to be a part of two of the most prestigious sectors of the global system – FINANCE and SECURITY – without which the world cannot run, thus “under no circumstance should you compromise your integrity and professionalism”, he summed up.

The batch of 49 Senior Cadets, commenced training on 26th December, 2020, and underwent tutelage in topics which included – weapons lessons, Preventive Leadership, Valuation Techniques, Integrated Customs Management Systems.

At the Awards, Best in Drills (Academy Sergeant Major) and Best in Academics Award went to – Senior Cadet (Snr Cdt) Audrey Mensah, Best in Weapon Handling to Snr Cdt Nana Otuo Serebuor, Best in Physical Training to Snr Cdt Richard Arko Inkoom, Best Female Trainee to Snr Cdt Elizabeth Opoku, with the Sword-of-Honour (Commissioner General’s) and the Most Disciplined (Commandant’s Special) Awards going to “Course Father” Snr Cdt Joshua Adam.

Dignitaries present included the Commandant of the GRA Academy and Training Schools, Sector Commanders of the Eastern and Volta Regions, amongst many.

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