By Frank Amponsah
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia has indicatedthat, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will effective September 1, this year remove all barriers on the country’s roads as part of a three-phase policy reform to make Ghana’s ports competitive on the continent.
According to him, all such barriers will be redundant in the long term with the introduction of the first port rule in Ghana where duties will be paid on goods destined for re-export and with the new automated gate opening system at the port which will be linked to the risk engine.
No vehicle, he indicated, will be able to leave the port without paying their duty because they will be replaced with occasional patrols.
The Vice President was delivering a statement on new measures to be introduced at Ghana’s Ports where he mentioned that government is dissatisfied because of the overall procedures, inexplicable charges, delays, lack of transparency and the complexity in port operations.
“Part of the problem has been the inadequate oversight by the owner of the port, the government of Ghana. Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to change. We are moving from a system of applying sub-standard and unnecessary complex procedures at the port to a system which meets international standards. We need value for money as a nation and we are going to insist on it. Our port operations have not lived up to international standards and the Nana Akufo-Addo government is determined to change that,” he said.
He also enumerated that per his announcement on May, 1, 2017, three measures will take effect from the September 1, including the removal of customs barriers within the country, mandatory Joint Inspections and a paperless port.
To achieve these 3 targets government is working closely with the stakeholders with the aim of automating and streamlining the services they provide while avoiding duplication of efforts in the medium term.
“…Our goal within the next six months is to have a robust risk engine which will grant customs clearance in a maximum of 4 hours. Dubai customs is able to grant customs clearance in 1 and ½ seconds and so Ghana can definitely aim for 4 hours. In the short term, we will begin the implementation of a risk clearance system at the pre-arrival stage and this will make it possible for compliant importers to sit in the comfort of their offices and get customs clearance. Every activity will be fed into the risk engine to enable us keep a record of importers.”
Government is also looking at introducing the First Port Rule in Ghana which will provide the avenue for the duty of goods destined for countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to be paid here in Ghana in order to provide a check on the dumping of goods destined for neighbouring countries in Ghana.
He expects the cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure port efficiency.
Touching on the paperless operations at the port, the Vice President, Dr Bawumia indicated that efforts are being put in place with the help and cooperation of all the stakeholders at the port to map out a process flow which will take effect from the 1st of September 2017.
“…Agencies and stakeholders presented paperless process flows which we merged into a process flow that will enable compliant importers to sit in the comfort of their offices or homes and get customs clearance. Terminals which are not ready for automation by 1st September will be left behind and people who do not comply will be sanctioned. Every activity by importers will be fed into the risk engine as we build risk profiles for importers and exporters.
The Vice President however indicated that government will soon announce a major decision on reforming the ports that will look at addressing the issue of multiple agents at the ports and said, the “first policy reform is to do with the transit corridors and the barriers that inhibit or delay or extort as far as transit trade is concerned.”
“We want to strengthen tracking at the port and checking at the ports…To deal with the whole issues that have to do with the presence of multiple agencies at the port,” the Vice-President stressed.