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Stakeholders firm up commitment for paperless transactions at ports

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA
    

Accra, July 14, GNA –
Stakeholders in the proposed paperless transactions at the nation’s entry
points have firmed up their commitment to the September 1, 2017 date for
take-off.

Existing electronic
platforms which support paperless transactions at the port are expected to
facilitate the successful implementation of the programme, but it has become
necessary to clearly define roles, improve information sharing among
stakeholders and enhance integrity among people who work at the ports and entry
points.

“There is the need for
people importing into our country to be transparent,” Mr Daniel Nii Kwartei
Titus-Glover, Chairman of the Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee of
Parliament, said.

“They must hold their
integrity because we need money to run this country, so if people under
declare, making it difficult for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue
Authority to come out with the right value, it makes it a difficult thing for
all of us,” he said.

Mr Titus-Glover said
this when he briefed journalists after the committee had met at the Parliament
House with industry players at Ghana’s ports and harbours over how they are
prepared to meet the September 1, 2017 deadline directed by Vice President Dr Mahamudu
Bawumia and appealed to them to be guided by truthfulness.

As part of
government’s commitment to formalising the economy and to bring to the minimum
the inefficiencies and man-made bottlenecks that have direct bearings on
revenue collection, Vice President Bawumia has urged all service agencies at
the country’s ports to switch to a paperless system by September 2017.

Furthermore, the move
is to halt collusion among importers, clearing agents and customs officials
that exploit the existing system at the port to the disadvantage of the nation.

In was in furtherance
of this commitment that agencies including the Ghana Ports and Harbours
Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Atomic
Energy Commission, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the
Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) West Blue and the Ghana Community
Network System Services Limited (GCNet) met the Trade, Industry and Tourism
Committee in Parliament on Tuesday, to update it on steps being taken to meet
the deadline.

Others at the meeting
were the Environmental Protection Agency, The Ghana Airport Company, the
Veterinary Services Division and the Aviance Cargo Company.

The paperless
transactions at the ports would be piloted by the Customs Division of the Ghana
Revenue Authority before it is finally rolled out in September.

Mr Titus-Glover, who
is also the Deputy Minister of Transport and MP for Tema East, said the pilot
should prompt amendments towards the implementation of the new regime.

“The Customs Division
of the Ghana Revenue Authority has indicated that there will be a pilot
programme which will involve all stakeholders. Based on that then we will see
the way forward if there are certain challenges we will be able to identify
them,” he said.

In 2013, Ghana hatched
the idea of going paperless, but implementation was not completely carried
through because industry players felt uncomfortable with the new system, which
was fraught with duplication of roles in some cases.

Mr Titus-Glover urged
GCNet and West Blue to effectively collaborate and clearly define roles to
avoid the seeming conflicts between the two agencies spearheading the move.

The GCNet is an
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system that links all the major players in
the clearing process.

The EDI allows for
electronic interchange of business information using a standardised format; a
process which allows one company to send information to another company
electronically rather than with paper. Business entities conducting business
electronically are called trading partners.

West Blue Consulting,
a business and IT-consulting and technology firm, who are providing technical
support for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, has enhanced
the Pre-Arrival and Assessment Report System of the Ghana National Single Window.

In line with the
ports, entry points, and trade routes reforms, the Customs Division of the
Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has started removing customs barriers along the
country’s transit trade routes.

Only four of the
barriers are being maintained and about 60 cleared. The four are Dabala in the
Volta Region; Salvelugu in the Northern Region; Offinso in the Ashanti Region
and Elubo in the Western Region.

Mr Isaac Crentsil, the
Acting Commissioner of Customs, told the meeting that the retention of the
barriers would be to check armed robbery, smuggling and the illegal movement of
arms.

GNA

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