The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has said wrong inputs of information by freight forwarders and some exporters about non-traditional products’ export cast doubts on the integrity of the country’s export trade data.
“The GEPA has realised that freight forwarders are mostly in haste to input export data on the GCNET system, and they end up making errors. At certain borders where there are no GCNET systems and freight forwarders have to fill-in the manual declaration forms, either they give wrong data or the writings are not legible to be captured,” said Mr. Samuel Dentu, Deputy CEO of GEPA.
The situation, he explained, has the tendency to create wrong export data which feed into planning and formulation of national trade policies.
“If freight forwarders get it wrong, GEPA will automatically produce inaccurate data, and it’ll be difficult to measure trade growth and policy direction.”
Mr. Dentu was speaking at a sensitisation workshop held in Sunyani for freight forwarders. The workshop, which also had exporters and other stakeholders present, was organised by GEPA to educate participants about the need to protect and ensure transmission of accurate export data.
“We need to get accurate data as far as our balance of payment is concerned, and we have realised that freight forwarders are very important in the scheme of things; hence the workshop. Beyond sensitisation, GEPA will organise hands-on workshops for the freight forwarders as well as refresher training for them,” he added.
The Vice-President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, David Kofi Nutakor, said the country’s data for export is nothing to write home about – attributing the situation to lack of competence on the part of freight forwarders.
“People don’t know that this issue of goods classification and valuation of goods for import and export is a highly-skilled and technical area. Freight forwarders must be educated about its rudiments to be able to deliver effectively.”
He observed that the export and import environment is now right for freight forwarders to seek the requisite knowledge to enhance their business activities. “Any type of professional training to make you efficient is right here in Ghana now; so, you have no excuse whatsoever not to upgrade your know-how. Freight forwarders must be technocrats with integrity.”
Exporters, according to Mr. Nutakor, are equally culpable regarding the provision of wrong data to freight forwarders.
“Laxity in filling export forms causes them to give raw classification of products, assigning wrong values and weights against certain commodities. Because exporters don’t pay duty on non-traditional commodities, they care less about inaccuracy of data they provide.”
Presenting a paper on ‘The need for collecting export data and for ensuring data integrity for policy planning’: The perspective of Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), Samuel Mortey – who is Head of Trade Statistics at the GSS said: “With the current state of data inputting, the health of the country’s economy can’t be diagnosed properly if we continue to work with wrong data”.