The new Integrated Customs Management System ICUMS is said to have raked in over GH¢177.3 million in revenues at the Tema Port of entry in one week of going live. This comes after the system which some refer to as UNIPASS had successfully processed more than 4,793 Bills of Entry (BOEs) from Custom house agents and freight forwarders after Friday at around 17:56hrs GMT after deployment at the Port on the first of June 1, 2020.
This success comes after the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), its technical partner Ghana Link Network Services Limited, and other stakeholders had been working around the clock to solve issues raised by freight forwarders and clearing house agents when the new Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) was deployed at the country’s biggest port.
With the ICUMS going live, some clearing agents were stranded due to old vendors switching off the Ghana Customs Management Systems, GCMS, even though they had not handed over data in their system to the Customs Division of GRA to enable them continue the clearing process of declarations they had.
A month before ICUMS took over the clearing processes at Port Tema, two main simulation exercises were conducted – both virtual and live on the ground – which included the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA; Meridian Port Services (MPS) Limited; Ghana Shippers Authority, GSA; Shipping Lines, National Security, Energy Commission, Food and Drugs Authority; Bank of Ghana, BOG; Ghana Standard Authority, Free Zones Authority and all other stakeholders at Port Tema got the ICUMS tested on its ability to aid the free flow of import/export/transit declarations.
This showed that the system was robust and ready to go live before Monday, June 1, 2020 when the technical managers – Ghana Link and GRA – were ready to provide the country and all stakeholders within the best trade facilitation tool with an end-to-end single-window solution that was going to see a seamless process in clearing goods at the ports.
Also coming at a lesser cost to the importers and clearing agents who are now burdened and maybe cash trapped as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the ICUMS is one of the best end-to-end solutions as COVID has changed the way things are done around the world, reducing face to face human interaction.
On day one, Monday June 1, even with the little challenges – including some importers, freight forwarders and clearing agents having a knowledge gap even after training – the ICUMS saw 400 Bills of Entry (BOE’s). See table below for daily statics
|DATE/DAY||BILL OF ENTRY (BOE)|
|MONDAY JUNE 1, 2020||394|
|TUESDAY JUNE 2, 2020||721|
|WEDNESDAY JUNE 3, 2020||964|
|THURSDAY JUNE 4, 2020||1,341|
|FRIDAY JUNE 5, 2020 (AS AT 1756HRS GMT)||1,373|
Source: BOE’s processed by the Integrated Customs Management System ICUMS at Tema
Assistant Commissioner of Customs and the Sector Commander of Accra Collection and Chairman of the Implementation Team of ICUMS, Emmanuel Ohene, expressed his gratitude to GRA officials, Ghana Link, GPHA, MPS, ICD’s Shipping Lines, Customs House Agents, Freight Forwarders and the MMDAs for the commitment shown to see the ICUMS project go live at Tema Port.
“Indeed, we are happy to see the declarants successfully create their Bills of Entry (BOEs) since Monday, June 1, 2020 when the ICUMS went live. Even though there might be a few challenges, this is normal with new systems being deployed anywhere in the world. But I can assure you that we stand ready to deal with such issues in the trade facilitation value chain.”
He added that while thanking everyone for the hard work they have put in over the period, he wanted all stakeholders and the trading public to abandon their reluctant attitude toward the change in systems in order to fully appreciate benefits of the ICUMS, which will achieve government’s single window and one end-to-end Customs management system goals.
Mr. Emmanuel Ohene indicated that at Tema Port most officers detailed to work on valuation of declarations filed through the ICUMS have been trained.
“All stakeholders, including freight forwarders and importers, have also been trained and training is still ongoing, and training is not an event but a continuous process which we will continue to do for the freight forwarders and all other stakeholders even after full rollout.”
The Vice-Chairman and Technical Committee Head of the Tema Branch of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Johnny Mante, when contacted expressed their joy at the approach taken by Ghana Link and the GRA; and said they do not expect the system to be perfect overnight, but are hopeful operators will continue to engage and train clearing house agents and importers.
Takoradi Port and other entry points
ICUMS, which has been operational at Takoradi Port since April 1, 2020, is said to have recorded some 4,481 Bills of Entry (BOEs) on the new clearance platform.
The BOE’s are said to have been recorded between the rollout date of April 1 and June 5, 2020, on the new platform — Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).
Takoradi Port, which handles about 35 percent of the country’s seaborne traffic, is Ghana’s second-biggest port.
Below is a table depicting total number of BOEs done at some selected Customs stations as at June 5, 2020, 14:24 hours GMT.
|STATION||BILLS OF ENTRY (BOEs)|
|Kotoka International Airport (KIA)||1,843|
Source: BOE’s processed by the Integrated Customs Management System ICUMS
Clearing procedures at Tema Port
To enhance clearing process at the Port of Tema, GRA/Ghana Link – the lead project manager of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) – has outlined proposals for the release of cargo for Bills of Entry processed in the old system, the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS).
The proposal, which is in two parts, makes provisions for Meridian Port Services (MPS) and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), and all other terminals including inland Container Depots, ICDs.
This has been put on pull-ups, banners, handouts at all the points mentioned above. Also, the Ghana Link team has stationed their officials to help agents and all other stakeholders who have challenges in using the new system, the ICUMS.
Benefits of ICUMS
It is a comprehensive clearance system that not only works to facilitate trade but also ensures that every pesewa is collected, and compliant and risk-free passengers are given special processing. The system also works to ensure national security and safety.
This also enables the sharing of timely information among regulatory agencies, stakeholders (such as those mandated by government to perform special tasks), and Customs. Regulatory information sharing goes beyond the issuance of permits, and includes information for statistical analysis and decision-making.
Through the clearance management system, all Customs business will be conducted in a paperless environment.
It is a modern and world-class technology acknowledged by international bodies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Customs Organisation (WCO), The World Bank and World Economic Forum (WEF), which is used to facilitate trade, ensure supply chain security and increase revenue.
When ICUMS is fully deployed, export will take 1.5 minutes and import 1.5 hours as this is the current standard in Korea and all other places where the system is operating.