Mr Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, Deputy Minister for Transport has hinted that the Paperless Port System will be extended to other areas within the customs division to ensure its holistic implementation.
This, he said, would also promote integrity and transparency in the Country, thereby, helping to reduce corruption as well as promote Ghana’s growth.
The Deputy Minister said this at a forum on the Paperless Port Project held in Accra on Wednesday to mark its one year anniversary.
The programme was under the auspices of Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) dubbed: “One Year of Paperless Port System: Review of Achievements, Challenges and Way Forward”.
It attracted key stakeholders such as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Customs Division, Freight Forwarders, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Association of Ghana Industries, West Blue Consulting, Ghana Union of Traders Association, Ghana Standards Authority, and Ghana Community Network (GCNet).
The Deputy Minister was responding to the participants’ question of why the project was not working at the airport.
He called on stakeholders to continue to support the paperless port system in order to ensure that integrity and transparency reigned in the country.
“If you want this country to develop and you want Shippers’ Authority to progress, you need to ensure integrity in your day to day activities,” he added.
He called on all the stakeholders to share information among themselves to ensure the sustainability and success of the system.
The Deputy Minister pledged that the system would be improved to ensure that importers sat at the comfort of their homes and offices to put in their applications.
He called on the people in the industry to support their own to make sure they had the best in their country.
He commended the key stakeholders for contributing to the successes chalked within one year of its implementation.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority said the Authority had instituted periodic surveys of the ports to monitor the clearance process under the paperless system.
This would enable it experience at first hand, the implementation of the paperless system introduced by Dr Alhaji Mahumadu Bawumia, the Vice President in 2017.
The Paperless Port System, she said was not 100 percent into its implementation and said they were monitoring check the discretionary powers of some security operatives that had the potential of reintroducing arbitrariness in the clearance process, she noted.
Ms Bismarck said requests are still being made for additional documents in hard copy, beyond the bill of lading and waybill and eventually, would get to a point of no paper request.
She said, the process was introduced to reduce cost of doing business as far as the private sector was concerned, to promote efficiency at the ports, to enable it compete effectively with other ports in the sub-region and generate the adequate revenue to build the country.
Ms Bismarck, added that the ideals of the paperless system were achievable as the necessary institutional structures have been established but quickly said “collaboration among the industry players is paramount.”
Mr Michael Luguje, Director General of GPHA said, the system was not unique to Ghana to make work efficient.
He enumerated some merits of the paperless system as easy and speeds up the clearing process, reduced cost of business, help meet regulations, more efficient, improve transparency, traceability, address security concerns such as illegal trade and money laundering.
He stated that though some platforms had scored the project between 80 and 90 percent, there would be no room for complacency because it was not 100 percent.
“We need to improve it continuously to ensure that freight forwarders were benefitting as well as ensuring Ghana’s economic growth,” he added.
Mr Anthony Oteng-Gyasi, who chaired the programme said that paperless in the advent of computer had still proved to be more beneficial, thus, commended government for the implementation.
He stressed that if the process did not work in Ghana, then, “we must be doing something wrong”.
Mr Oteng-Gyasi called on the authorities to also focus on exporters and find ways of improving the sector, adding that, if export fees must be reduced to encourage such people, policies must be reviewed to benefit both the nation and exporters.
He called on participants to criticise constructively and suggest ways to improve the process.
Mr Emmanuel Ohene, Sector Manager for Accra Collection, GRA-Customs Division said the 16 port inspection agencies had now been beaten down to three whilst the mandatory joint inspectors reduced to 55 percent.
Mr Ohene called for more capacity building for not only custom officers but also the rest in the supply chain, saying that, Paperless had come to stay and there was the need for stakeholders to stay positive and have a progressive mind-set.