The Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has deployed sniffer dogs at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) as part of strategies to boost revenue collection.
The dogs, numbering 11, have been specifically trained to detect hidden currencies which were usually not detected by the installed scanners in the luggage of passengers.
Otherwise known as detection dogs, other state institutions, including the Narcotics Control Board and security agencies use these specially trained dogs to detect narcotic substances and explosives.
Edward Kumi, Second-in-charge of the Customs K9 Unit at the KIA, told Ghanaian Times in an interview in Accra yesterday, that, the deployment of the sniffer dogs has been necessitated by a change in the modus operandi of some criminals to hide undeclared huge amounts of different currencies in their luggage.
As required, he said, all passengers were expected to declare to Customs officials at the airport any amount exceeding US$10,000.
However, some passengers, he said, rather preferred to hide the currency in their luggage, mostly to avoid payment of the required tax.
The sniffer dogs, which have undergone currency detection training for close to two years, Mr Kumi stated, are able to detect the currency and alert the officials for action.
“The challenge was that the installed scanners at both the departure and arrival sections of the Terminal 3 (KIA) are unable to detect the currencies hidden in luggage. These dogs are specially trained to sniff bags and detect currencies. When they make an indication that a passenger has currencies, we the officials search through the bag for anything in there,” he stated.
To avoid long queues for both arriving and departing passengers who are to undergo inspection, he said, all officers in the K9 Unit would support the dogs in the exercise.
A Team Leader/Customs Specialist with the Danish International Development Cooperation, which was assisting the GRA, Maurizio Zincone, said, the sniffer dogs have been adequately trained to help the GRA in identifying passengers with currencies in their luggage for payment of the right taxes.
The GRA has been undertaking some reforms and implementing measures to address challenges with revenue mobilisation, following failure to meet the 2018 and first quarter of 2019 targets.
The government last year projected to collect about GH₵40 billion but missed out on the target by a little over five per cent.
In the first quarter of this year, the government collected a little over GH₵10 billion which was about GH₵2 billion short of the GH₵12 billion targeted.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS