The acting Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, has charged the Customs division of GRA to automate more of their processes and develop unique technologies to help block gaps in their system and boost their collection figures.
He made this known in a speech read on his behalf when the division joined the global Customs community to mark the 2021 International Customs Day celebration in Accra.
Over the years, he said, the Customs Division of the GRA has embraced advanced technologies which have brought about innovative ways to implement, enhance and accelerate processes.
International trade, he said, “has expanded at a high rate, and health and safety of the people has been key. As we go through this pandemic, we need healthy people to work and contribute to revenue in the country. Hence the need to put people at the centre of the transformation process, “he said
This year’s event, under the theme ‘Customs Bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a Sustainable Supply Chain’, is dedicated to the united efforts of Customs to emerge from the coronavirus crisis.
The International Customs Day (ICD) instituted by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) is celebrated on January 26 every year, and offers members of the WCO opportunity to showcase their efforts and activities. It attracted Customs officers, government officials, stakeholders, partner government agencies and private organisations. Many others participated online, in line with the COVID-19 protocol of ensuring physical distance to curb spread of the virus.
The Secretary General of WCO, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya – also in a speech read on his behalf, said as part of emerging from the global pandemic, Customs will support people and businesses by strengthening the global supply chain, reinforcing collaboration, harnessing technology and “putting people at the centre of the transformation process”.
In line with this, he urged members of the WCO to embrace digital transformation at the borders – paying particular attention to automation, the use of innovative technologies, and adoption of collaborative approaches with all stakeholders along the supply chain as they move to reconstruct in the wake of COVID-19.
Dr. Mikuriya said since Customs is uniquely positioned and mandated at borders, they can contribute to a sustainable supply chain by reinforcing collaboration to drive the recovery process. “The herculean task of reconstruction cannot be undertaken in isolation, and the expertise of all border agencies and stakeholders will be a decisive factor. Customs will be called upon to demonstrate its leadership during this process, at the national and international levels, “he said.
The WCO Secretary General said the COVID-19 crisis had demonstrated that coordinated border management is possible, efficient, and can be further institutionalised at international and national levels.
He called on Customs officials to rethink and adapt the way they operate, and enhance the preparedness of their staff through awareness-raising and capacity-building for the provision of a professional service. To achieve resilience, he said, there will be need for integrity, diversity and inclusion.
“A lack of integrity in Customs can distort trade and investment opportunities, undermine public trust in government administration, and ultimately jeopardise the well-being of citizens – which in times of recovery could prove to be a recipe for failure.”
Chairman of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) Implementation Committee, Assistant Commissioner Emmanuel Ohene, said deployment of the system at the country’s major ports and borders by the Customs Division of GRA is timely – especially in view of the global health crisis that has put restrictions on movement.
He said the ICUMS helped ensure continuity of trade and keeping officials of the division and other stakeholders safe. The ICUMS, which allows seamless payment of Customs duties, comes with some useful tools that ensure continual mobilisation of revenue for the state while staying safe.
He added that all containers are disinfected at the ports and terminals before they are opened for examination, so as to protect stakeholders and officers of the division.