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Stand-off At Tema Harbour …Duffuor Battles National Security

Call it Ghana’s version of the Byzantine war to establish Constantinople. Call it a showdown between two Akatamansonian forces and you will just be talking about the ensuing debacle between Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor and the nation’s spy organ, National Security.

Dr Duffour jet into town over the weekend from an IMF meeting in London to learn to his disappointment and rage that National Security has disbanded a revenue task force he set up at the Tema Harbour. In its place, National Security has inaugurated a joint revenue task force, whose members are said to know next to nothing about revenue collection.

GHANA DAILY has gathered that the members from National Security were given three days training on revenue collection.

Sources say Dr Duffour is particularly angry over the fact that the task he set up which comprised trained and competent customs officers had to be dissolved for a National Security contingent which is handicapped in the know-how of revenue collection. The Minister could not readily grant an interview to this paper, but sources close to him say he would not sit down idle for his authority to be undermined. “If there is revenue shortfall he would be blamed. So we won’t sit down,” a source close him said. The on-going feud is currently causing consternation in the government. Highly-placed sources at the Ghana Revenue Authority have expressed their anger over why National Security should hijack revenue collection. Some of them who pleaded on condition of anonymity said they were pondering over the best medium to raise the issue with President Mills.

In our subsequent editions, we would report on how dodgy a high placed officer at National Security has been and lied on tape when contacted to speak on the issue. GHANA DAILY will also publish the list of the new task force, some of whom have questionable track record.

Dr Duffour per a letter last year established the Special Operations Unit, SOU, within CEPS to patrol the exercise of revenue collection. The unit, headed by Mr Nelson Abudu has been able to rescue over 6 billion old cedis into the tax net. Importers who tried to cut corners were made to pay their right duties. The unit, through an under-cover work in the north was able to arrest a military truck loaded with several cartons of cigarettes being smuggled. Late last year, the unit also arrested a truck loaded with over 5,000 units of gas cylinders which escaped from the port without paying any duty.

The SOU early this year faced an initial threat of dismissal by national security elements but Dr Duffour stood his grounds when he caused to be written another letter on 13th January, 2011 reminding all key government institutions that the task has been set up by him.

[Source: GHANA DAILY edited by Livingstone Pay Charlie]