The World Customs Organisation (WCO) on Monday tasked its members to intensify their mode of combating terrorism and other security threats at borders to facilitate the rapid and safe movement of the people and goods.
Mr Kunio Mikuriya, the Secretary General of the WCO, in a speech delivered on his behalf at the “International Customs Day” in Accra, said customs had a dual task to facilitate a safe movement to encourage trade, travel and transport.
He noted that it was essential for customs to take the lead in consolidating and further amplifying the ongoing efforts at easing the flow of goods and people across borders, which would turn globalisation into a positive force.
Speaking on the theme, “SMART Borders for Seamless Trade, Travel and Transport,” Mr Mikuriya explained that the concept of SMART borders highlights customs role in supporting the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Customs does this by creating a level playing field for all stakeholders through simplified, standardised and harmonised procedures.
“It ensures timely delivery of raw materials to industries, reduces unfair competition in local communities, and opens up opportunities for marginalised communities to access new markets,” he said.
“It also creates transparent and predictable conditions for trade and facilitates legitimate business that will in turn contribute to economic growth and job opportunities.”
Mr Mikuriya asked all WCO members to promote and share information on efforts towards achieving ‘SMART borders’ and highlight challenges faced with projects to inspire others.
Such activities, he said, would go a long way to bringing the global customs community together and forge partnership and cooperation essential to achieving success in the international trading landscape.
Mr Mikuriya said the WCO, apart from security, was promoting a performance-based culture that rested on self-evaluation and objective measurement by exhorting customs to ensure that elements of the trade flowed and organisational performance were measurable.
Mr Harry Owusu, the Board Chairman of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), appealed to custom officers to carry out their duties in a way that clear perceptions in the minds of the travelling public that officials were a hindrance to trade, travel and the movement of people across borders.
He said the Customs Division of the GRA, last year, introduced a number of measures to enhance revenue mobilised from the entry points.
He said the target set for last year could not be achieved adding; “This situation calls for stringent measures to ensure it is realised this year”.
Mr Owusu, who chaired the celebration, advised custom officers to adopt best practices to ensure professionalism.
“It is imperative for the Customs Division to adopt and apply technology, methods and international standards to increase the volume of trade across the country’s borders and entry points,” he said.
He urged all officers to be honest and transparent in their dealings and interactions with importers to erase the perception of corruption that seemed to be embedded in the minds of the public.
The Day was attended by officials from the ministries of Trade and Industry, Roads and Highways, and Finance, as well as representatives of Freight Forwarders, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industries, GcNET, Ghana Union of Traders Association, Ghana Standards Authority and the Ghana Revenue Authority.