The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will absorb some of its Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) personnel into permanent employment through a conscious programme at the end of the year.
The Commissioner of Customs, Col Kwadwo Damoah (retd), said those selected would undergo training at the Customs Academy after which they would be engaged as full-time officers.
He said the GRA Board had given consent for the Customs Division to recruit some staff in view of the high number of officers who had retired in recent years.
Addressing officers in the Oti Region last Friday as part of a tour of the region, Col Damoah said the issue of staffing was a major challenge for the Customs Division nationwide.
“We don’t have the men at all. Any location that you find our men, they are outnumbered by the Immigration Service, in some cases by more than two, three, or 10 times. For instance, at Tijase, whereas we have 16 officers, they (Immigration) have 46 officers. And then at Ahamasu, they have six, we have one officer,” Col Damoah said.
“We had started some training in 2018/19, but unfortunately we have not done any training this year and that has compounded the issue. The board has given consent for us to recruit about 250 staff at the last part of this year,” he added.
The commissioner’s visit to the Oti Region was to find ways to develop the Oti Collection of the Customs Division and to also seek first-hand information on how to improve the working conditions of personnel in the area.
Col Damoah toured Tijase, Menuso, Ahamasu, among other border towns, and Poase Cement after engaging security heads and the Oti Regional Minister, Mr. Kwasi Owusu Yeboah, and his deputy, Mr. Maxwell Blagodzi, on how to assist the Customs Division to get a befitting office at the regional capital, Dambai.
Staff of the Customs Division in the region had complained about the lack of offices, office equipment, residential accommodation, vehicles, among others, during a meeting with Col Damoah.
It emerged at the meeting that the Customs Division in the area was also handicapped in effectively checking the many unapproved routes along the border communities because of inadequate personnel.
Col Damoah, however, said: “I am happy to be here because I want to see at first hand the living and working conditions of the staff here, to know their challenges and what we can do in the short term and long term to increase productivity at this newly created collection.”
He said management of the Customs Division would do its best to address their challenges for the smooth running of activities in the collection and the region.
He stressed, however, that some of the issues needed immediate attention, and promised to address them before the end of the year.
The commissioner said the Customs Division was well behind the GH¢13 billion target set for the current year.
As of September 2020, he said, that arm of the GRA had collected less than GH¢9 billion, with a difference of about nearly GH¢4 billion still outstanding.
He, however, expressed the hope that with the measures put in place, the Customs Division would be able to achieve the target in spite of the effect of COVID-19 on its activities.
Col Damoah disclosed that the Customs Division would deploy 500 of its men to beef up security for the upcoming general election in December, and urged the officers to be professional in their work and collaborate with other security agencies during the exercise.
“You have to be very vigilant, have your ears on the ground, and work with other security agencies so that we have peaceful elections,” he charged them.
Earlier, the commissioner inaugurated a gym for the Aflao Collection after a staff durbar.
He commended the Aflao Collection for being the first to put up a gym for the physical fitness of personnel under the collection.