By Julian Owusu-Abedi
Data emerging from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) shows the total revenues generated by the Integrated Customs Management System ICUMS for the authority has reached a record high of some GHc10.5 billion as of December 12, 2020.
The breakdown includes some GHc7.6 billion collected by the Customs Division from exports and imports with the rest of the Gh¢2.7billion coming from the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) through the ICUMS. There is also a Non GRA revenue component which is also hovering around a little over GHc140 million.
It is instructive to note that, the GRA in June 2020 had through a press conference which was addressed by the Commissioner-General claimed that prior to the switch over to the new platform, the existing platform which was the National Single Window System operated by GC Net in partnership with West Blue Consulting, was generating a monthly average of GHc940 million.
The new data then justifies the reasons behind government’s decision to have the new platform sourced from South Korea’s Customs UNI-PAS International Agency(CUPIA) deployed in collaboration with its local partner, Ghana Link Network Services.
Today government officials and the GRA itself are enthused with the revenue performance of the ICUMS as the figures keep rising despite the adverse impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on trade volumes. This, they argue, suggests even better revenue improvement when the pandemic eventually subsides.
Apart from June 2020, when revenue generated by the ICUMS drop by almost 4% below what was generated same period in 2019 due to the challenges which dogged the deployment at Tema, the current data has seen an upward trend. Comparing year on year you will see that in July 2020 while the ICUMS generated over GHc1.1billion, the old vendors generated duty payments of GHc949million. Therefore, in this month the increase in percentage terms was hovering around 23%.
In August 2020 the percentage increase was around 32%, because the ICUMS generated duty payment of some GHc1.2billion while the old vendors (GCNet and West Blue) raised GHc952million in August 2019. In September 2020 while the ICUMS generated above GHc1.2billion representing some 35% increase from what the old vendors generated (GHc920million) in the same period in 2019.
With the data seen November 2019 was the best performance of the old vendors where they raised a little over GHc1billion but again they were out performed by the ICUMS which has Ghana Link Network Services as its technical partners generating some GHc1.2 billion representing an increase of 26% in percentage terms. In October 2020 the ICUMS raised 35% (GHc1.3bilion) in revenues higher than wat the GCNet and West Blue (GHc980million) generated for the government in the same period last year.
Coming from the election and going into 2021, public revenue collection has become even more crucial for government than usual as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak has drastically limited its traditional sources of revenues even as its health and social intervention spending have been driven upwards dramatically and has seen the debt levels also balloon.
When it comes to the number of days its takes for one to clear its goods from the port the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue through its media engagements on some selected media houses have stated that they have been significant improvements with the clearance time of goods at our ports and land entering points. According to them the average number of days for one to clear goods at the ports especially is 4 days. Average clearance time is calculated from when a declaration is submitted to the ICUMS system till the time that the goods are released from customs.
Success of ICUMS
Just last week also the Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of the Accra Sector Command who is also the ICUMS implementation Committee Chairman Mr Emmanuel Ohene also in his recent interviews with the media has also hailed the success of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), which is significantly transforming trade facilitation.
The success of the system according to him, includes elimination of the multiple routes prior to payment of duties, seamless processes, increasing revenue, speedy processing of pre-manifest declaration, and undertaking classification and valuation in the same system, among others.
2nd phase of ICUMS to be done by first quarter of 2021
Mr Ohene has told the media that after a successful implementation of the phase one of the ICUMS, the second phase is expected to be rolled-out by the first quarter of 2021.
While admitting to some genuine complaints of the trading public regarding the new system, he pointed out that the ICUMS was significantly progressive with regard to trade facilitation in Ghana.
He therefore encouraged users of the system to be hopeful as the introduction of the second phase of the system, would see the few challenges fixed, as well as many added innovations
The system is divided into 5 main components: Customs Business, Integrated Risk Management, Single Window, IT Management, and Customs Administration.
The ICUMS was first deployed at the various frontiers in March 2020 following successfully pilot at Aflao and Elubo a month earlier in February. In April Takoradi having undergone simulations and stress test took – off. Then finally Ghana’s biggest port in terms of size and ability to accept cargo volumes was hooked onto the ICUMS system on June 1, 2020.