Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has disclosed that beginning July 1, 2018, the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the ports will be reduced to three from the current 16.
This, according to him, forms part of the comprehensive reforms being made to the paperless system at the ports after it was reviewed by relevant stakeholders in the sector.
Under the new measures, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will be the three main agencies to carry out joint inspections at the port.
The National Security or the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), based on intelligence, will be co-opted when the need arises.
The Vice President, speaking at the 2018 Accra Mall Mobex Technology Expo, last week added that a task force has been established to monitor the implementation of the port paperless system on a daily basis and to provide reports for action to be taken when issues arise.
Dr Bawumia said the compliance stage of the clearance process has also been abolished as it has become redundant under the new system, explaining that the functions will be performed by the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB) which will undertake and deal with duplications in the compliance stage of the clearance processes.
He indicated that the reforms had become increasingly necessary because some persons within the export and import ecosystem were flouting the regulations. Some Customs officials, he pointed out, are still influencing the system through various human interventions to enrich themselves at the expense of the state.
“It is clear that notwithstanding the new systems that have been implemented, there are concerted efforts to circumvent the paperless system both by customs officials and supposedly national security operatives.
“I understand that some officials at the port are demanding documents from importers for stamping. This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new paperless regime,” he stressed.
Dr. Bawumia assured that these reforms will speed up the clearing process and offer effectiveness and transparency across the ports in the country.
Government on September 4, 2017 commenced the implementation of the paperless clearing system at the ports.
The move follows an ultimatum by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, for the port agencies to migrate to a paperless regime that had been in the works for a number of years but was being hobbled by a lack of political will.
Although the implementation was met with stiff resistance by a section of freight forwarders who claimed they were not well educated, the paperless system has taken off as directed.
By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah