Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has stated that new measures have been designed to streamline operations at the ports to reduce the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections from 16 to three, effective July 1.
This, he said, is part of moves to drive the country’s digital agenda and also purge corrupt practices from the system as the old paper-system easily bred them.
He noted that the Compliance stage of the clearance process has been abolished since it has become redundant under the new paperless system – adding that this function will be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB).
He said: “We have established a taskforce to monitor implementation of the paperless system at the ports, on a daily basis, and provide reports for action where bottlenecks arise.
“It is clear that notwithstanding the new systems which have been implemented, there are concerted efforts to circumvent the paperless system by both Customs and other government officials. I understand that some officials at the ports are demanding documents from importers for stamping.
“This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new paperless regime. No official should demand from any importer documents (except the Way Bill and Bill of Lading) for stamping or any other purpose during the clearance process. All the relevant documents are online. It is only a ruse for corruption,” he concluded.
The three agencies expected to undertake this new directive are the Ghana Standards Authority, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA Customs Division) and the Food and Drugs Authority, he said – adding that the National Security or Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) will join based on intelligence.
The Vice-President made this statement at the 4th Edition of the MOBEX Africa ICT Expo, held in Accra under the theme ‘Enhancing Economic Prosperity through Retail Technology and Financial Innovation’.
“While we are on a mission to digitise Ghana, we have to be very aware that new systems will only be as good as the people who implement them. New systems disrupt the status quo and therefore one can expect push-back from beneficiaries of the status quo. Our experience with implementation of the paperless system at the ports is a case in point,” Dr Bawumia pointed out.
He revealed that data from GCNET indicate that over 40 percent of containers are cleared within 24 hours, and about 70 percent of containers are cleared within 72 hours. He noted that this is a significant progress made; however, more efforts can be made to improve the process.
Dr. Bawumia also noted that there are plans in place to build an ICT city where major tech players in the country will undertake the responsibility of its fruition, including resources and materials needed to ensure its success.