Effective July 1, the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the ports will be reduced from 16 to three.
The three agencies to remain in operation at the ports are Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)
The new measures are aimed at bringing about more efficiency, improve revenue collection, and rein in corruption using the paperless port system.
43% of containers cleared in 24 hours
According to data from the Ghana Community Network (GCNet), 43 per cent of containers are cleared within 24 hours, and about 70 per cent of them are cleared within 72 hours since the introduction of the paperless system.
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia made the announcement at Mobex Africa Tech Expo, a technology trade show, in Accra.
According to him, officers from the National Security or Narcotic Controls Board would join base on intelligence at the ports.
Officers frustrating the system
He found as shocking, reports that some officials at the ports had been demanding documents from importers for stamping.
“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 had 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 were online and that the compliance stage of the clearance process had been abolished because it had become redundant under the new system.
That function would be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau.
Ghana shippers paid $76m as demurrage and rent in 2017
Shippers in Ghana paid $76m as demurrage and rent in 2017, which the Ghana Shipper Authority (GSA) describes as an avoidable waste of resources.
Facilitating easy clearance of goods will save shippers the unnecessary demurrage and rent cost.
Compliance stage of the clearing process
The compliance stage of the clearing process, according to the Vice-President, has become redundant under the paperless system and will, therefore, be abolished from July 1, 2018.
He indicated that going forward, the compliance function will be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB) to deal with the duplication that was identified during the review.
Taskforce for monitoring PS
As part of the new reforms, a taskforce which would be responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of the paperless port clearing system has been set up, the Vice-President announced.
The team will be required to provide managers of the port systems with daily and weekly reports to aid them in decision making.
He said the nation was on track to digitise the economy, but it should not be lost on anybody that “the beneficiaries of the old system would want to push back and to cause distraction”.
The paperless port system had brought significant gains – improved the clearance of goods and services, and raised government’s revenue.
The 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.