The Customs Service Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been urged to remove all barriers to trade and promote a conducive environment to attract international trade.
Deputy Finance Minister Kwaku Kwarteng, speaking on the theme ‘A Secure Business Environment for Economic Development’ at the World Custom Day in Accra said: “The processes and procedures for the importation, exportation and clearance of goods must be convenient, timely and certain”.
Mr. Kwarteng explained that the longer goods stay at the ports during clearance processes, the more insecure they become.
“The Custom Division must work toward enhancing successful movement of goods and services at the ports to help increase in the volume of international trade, which will help boost international investments and standards.”
He said businesses that are in connection with Customs activities means international trade, adding that making the country’s borders safe and secure will attract more international trade-players in the sub-region. Furthermore, Customs has a great stake in the country’s development as it is one of the key revenue mobilisation institutions.
Mr. Kwarteng also cautioned Customs officials to apply technology and international standards to increase the volumes of international trade across the country’s borders and entry points.
He however entreated Customs officials to eschew all forms of corrupt acts at contacts points, and rather focus on their core mandate.
In a speech read on behalf of the Secretary-General of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya, the Commissioner-General of Customs Division, Mr. Isaac Crentsil, explained: “Combating cross-border crime – including the illicit funding of international terrorism through trade activities – is our responsibility, and one that Customs takes seriously in its efforts to ensure a safe environment.”
He said this year’s theme also echoes the current Customs focus on trade facilitation, created by entry into force of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement – as well as adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives meeting at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York in September 2015 to decide on new global “sustainable development goals”.
He indicated that the theme also supports efforts aimed at unleashing the potential of women in business, or female entrepreneurs, as a means to enhance enterprise development, create more employment, and alleviate poverty.
Mr. Crentsil said the WCO will continue “to enhance the promotion of relevant tools, instruments and initiatives as well as the work being done in areas as diverse as combatting cross-border crime, engagement with stakeholders, data collection and analysis, digitisation of Customs services, effective management of cross-border e-Commerce transactions, standardisation of information exchange, strengthening Customs-Tax cooperation, tackling trade mis-invoicing and fighting corruption, to name a few”.
He said providing a secure environment for business will create incentives for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to expand their activities to participate more fully in international trade, as well as encourage them to innovate, generate employment and invest in human resources, thereby boosting economic growth and raising living standards.
The Director in Charge of the Tema Port, Mr. Edward Kofi Osei – who was making a presentation on the activities of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and its impacts on Customs operations – said the collaboration between Customs and GPHA is to make the country a leading hub and beacon of trade and industry in the sub-region through an efficient border.
He said the Port’s contribution of about 60 percent of the country’s total revenue generation, has been made possible as a result of its good policies and measures which are attracting both importers and exporters, including countries from the sub-region.
He said factors such as improved and efficient clearing of goods by both importers and exporters have made the port attractive to them – adding that countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso pass their goods through the port due to the security provided for their cargoes.