Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has announced government’s decision to review operations of the paperless port system to bring about more efficiency, improve revenue collection and rein-in corruption.
He said from July 01, the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the ports will be reduced from 16 to three – Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Officers from the National Security or Narcotic Controls Board will join based on intelligence.
Government on September 1, last year, introduced the paperless port system to promote efficiency, reduce the turnaround time of vessels, and minimise the human interface to reduce corruption.
The Vice-President, speaking at the launch of ‘Mobex Africa Tech Expo’ – a technology trade show in Accra, said he found reports that some officials at the ports had been demanding documents from importers for stamping to be shocking.
“This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new bill and bill of laden for stamping or any other purpose during the clearance process.”
He added that there have also been reports of payments being made to Customs officials through mobile money channels to circumvent the paperless process.
Vice-President Dr. Bawumia reminded the public that all relevant documents for clearing goods at the ports are online, and that the compliance stage of the clearance process has been abolished because it became redundant under the new system.
That function will be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau.
He said the nation is on track to digitise the economy – but it should not be lost on anybody that “the beneficiaries of the old system will want to push back and to cause distraction”.
The paperless port system had brought significant gains – having improved the clearance of goods and services and raised government’s revenue.
According to data from the Ghana Community Network (GCNet), 43 percent of containers are cleared within 24 hours, and about 70 percent of them cleared within 72 hours.
The three-day Expo is being organised by the Coaster Company Limited, under the theme ‘Enhancing economic prosperity through retail technology and financial innovation’.
It has provided the platform for innovators, young entrepreneurs and policymakers to discuss strategies on leveraging technology to facilitate economic growth and attract investment.