The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has rejected claims by some business operators at the ports over the resumption of the manual clearing system.
It argues that it has addressed the outstanding issues with the paperless clearing system hence the claims by the businesses cannot hold.
Some clearing agents and freight forwarders last week expressed grave concern over the delay in the clearing process.
In their view, the development undermines the paperless port system as it is almost three months into the implementation of the paperless port systems.
Among the concerns raised by the clearing agents and the freight forwarders are; that they are compelled to submit hard copies of the bill of laden which helps to determine real owners of imports.
Also, the waybill which is a final clearing pass at the port is issued in a hardcopy format.
In addition, the businesses say they are made to queue for preventive activities involving the inspection of imports to check conformity with standards.
“Nothing has changed in my line of duty; I’m into free zone exports and imports. Currently we’re still writing landing accounts. The only thing that has changed is compliance officers being moved from Tema to head quarters. We’re still writing landing accounts. Officers are still going to the field to check containers. The things we were doing previously we’re still doing them, nothing has changed. If they know something has changed they should let us know,” one clearing agent bemoaned.
But reacting to this, the Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Isaac Crentsil clarified that the bill of laden and the waybill are only documents entitled to be issued in hardcopies despite the paperless system.
“The only papers that are legitimate to be issued in paper are the waybills and the bill of laden; there is no need to hold landing accounts but the examination officer will need to use that for immediate examination by tallying and subsequently confirming back at the office.”
According to him, the issues with the preventive unit have since been addressed.
Both parties however alluded to the relocation of the compliance unit to the headquarters which has expedited the process so far.
But it appears the four hour turnaround time touted for the paperless clearing system is yet to be fully rolled out.
Mr. Crentsil attempts an explanation to this as, “absolutely we have cleared some goods within the four hour schedule. But one of the constraints is that where there is a yellow signal at the scan session, then we need to carry out the physical examination. Aside that everything is going well.”
Paperless port rakes in GH¢213m in revenue
Already, the paperless clearing system is reported to have accrued the economy some GHc213 million in revenue at the ports.
According to the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia revenue increased from GHc130 million in the first week of September 2016, to GHc213 million in the same period for 2017.
But efforts must be intensified to address all teething issues in order to sustain the gains so far made.
By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana