Anonymous CEPS officers welcome NDC Manifesto promise to restore CAP 30
The Chronicle can report of high hopes among personnel and officers of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) after having heard that the next National Democratic Congress (NDC) government will restore them on the CAP 30 pension scheme.
The promise of putting the Division back on the pension scheme is contained in the opposition NDC’s 2020 Manifesto dubbed: ‘The People’s Manifesto’, which was launched on Monday night.
Point 10.11.8 of the NDC’s manifesto on ‘Customs Division of the GRA’, reads: “The next NDC government will fully implement the recent Supreme Court ruling and the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Commission regarding the security status of the Customs Division. Restore it to its rightful place among the security service and improve its conditions of service”.
The manifesto promise, some officers of CEPS told The Chronicle via telephone, has rekindled their dwindling morale, which The Chronicle published in its Monday issue, with the headline: ‘CEPS ‘hoists’ red flag over CAP 30 snub’.
Before that, some personnel of the Customs Division of the GRA had described it as unfair and discriminatory their exclusion from the CAP 30 Pension Scheme by the government.
Their concerns were based on the fact that, according to them, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at a recent Graduation and Commissioning Parade of the Ghana Prisons Service at the Prison Officers Training School (POTS), Accra, did not mention the Customs Service as beneficiaries of the Cabinet’s approval and placement of all security agencies under one pension scheme, in order to ensure uniformity of benefits.
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, on August 28, this year, announced that all the security agencies would be placed under the CAP 30 Pension Scheme.
On behalf of President Akufo-Addo, the Vice President said in part: “I am happy to announce that Cabinet has approved the placement of all the security agencies under a single pension scheme, CAP 30.
“So personnel of the Prisons Service, Fire Service, Police and Immigration are all going to be placed under CAP 30, which the military is already under.”
That, scores of personnel of the Customs Division, told The Chronicle, on condition of anonymity, that the government had been unfair and discriminatory by excluding the Division, which has long been recognised by Article 83 of the 1992 Constitution and the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act 526, as a security agency in Ghana.
The personnel explained further that Sections 112 to 120 of the Customs Act, 891 of 2015, imposes on Customs officers similar powers, privileges and immunities as are given by law to the police and other security officers in terms of arrest, search, patrols, among others in their bid to prevent unauthorized entry of illicit goods across the borders of the country.
To make their case stronger, which the NDC later captured in their manifesto, the personnel showed two separate rulings by the Supreme Court in 2011, WRIT J1/5/2007, and 2015, WRIT J1/2/2013.
In the 2011 ruling, WRIT J1/5/2007 between CEPS and National Labour Commission, the Apex Court stated: “The time is ripe for us to take a bold decision to recognise CEPS as a security agency(SC, 2009).”
That position was reiterated by the Court in its 2015 ruling, WRIT J1/2/2013, after CEPS was integrated into GRA as a Division, and in the words of the Supreme Court, it said: “As noted in this judgement, CEPS is preserved under the GRA Act and nothing therein detracts from its character and functions as they were when the court decided the case of CEPS and National Labour Commission (2011) SCGLR 8(SC 2015).”Justice Atuguba, JSC, presided the CORAM for both cases.
The personnel, in this regard, argued that by the combined effects of the statutory position, plus the ruling by the Supreme Court on two separate occasions, explicitly wear Customs officers the status of security services who are militarily trained and armed with weapons to operate, sometimes, jointly with other security agencies, in border patrols, counter terrorism, election policing, among others.
Therefore, that Customs officers are security officers, they held, has been answered by the Supreme Court and all other relevant statutes and practices.
“What you must ask them (the government) is why CEPS are not enjoying other benefits such as the CAP 30 Pension Scheme. Customs officers, unlike our counterparts in the other security services, have never enjoyed the CAP 30 Pension Scheme, therefore, leaving officers in a very deplorable state after retirement.
“As noted by Cabinet during its decision to amend the Unified Pension Act to restore security officers back unto CAP 30, the functions of all security officers have been considered to be very crucial to the safety and survival of this nation, and this includes no exception in accordance with the Constitution and Act 526. In this regard, it is highly expected that Customs officers will be rightly placed under CAP 30 as a preferred pension scheme.
“We, members of Ghana Customs, strongly believe that after the latest, decisive judgement of the Supreme Court on our status, our future lies only in seeking every legitimate means to secure a better future, if we are added to the Security and Intelligence Act of 1996 (Act 526).
“We need to think, talk and, above all, adopt rational strategies by means of a focused approach to accomplish our mutual objective. We, therefore, urge all members to commit themselves towards this fateful and critical goal,” they encouraged their other colleagues.
Few days later, after they had cried that any contrary decision by the government to exclude them on the CAP 30 pension scheme would amount to discrimination and dissatisfaction, some officers of the Customs Division hinted to The Chronicle on Tuesday morning, that several telephone calls they had received from personnel across the country suggested that they were glad to hear that the opposition NDC has promised to restore CEPS on the CAP 30 pension scheme should they form the next government from January 2021.