FDA, GSA tasked to examine goods at ports

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah
Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah

The government is taking steps to address the duplication of functions by some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) which are adversely impeding the ease of doing business at the ports and the country as a whole.

Consequently, it has reduced the numerous health agencies to two institutions  which are the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) to undertake examination of goods related to health as part of the mandatory joint  examination of goods by concerned agencies. 

A Deputy Minister of  Trade and Industry, Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, disclosed this at a stakeholders’ workshop by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) on Thursday, August 24, in Accra.

The workshop was also organised for the chamber to share the findings of its new study on challenges associated with doing business at the country’s ports titled: ‘Situational Analyses of Tema and Takoradi Seaports and Kotoka International Airport.’

The study was aimed at evaluating  operational challenges and bottlenecks which are associated with doing business at the ports.

The study, among other things, also the identified duplication of functions by some MDAs as one of the main challenges impeding the ease of doing business at the ports.

Mr Ahenkorah indicated that as part of the paperless initiative the government would address the duplication of functions by the various state agencies to bring efficiency at the ports.

“Clearance of goods at the port stands on two legs-revenue and health. The revenue agency has encompassed all the revenue collectors at the port under one agency called customs. But when you come to the health sector all of them are stationed at the ports and individually wants to examine every consignment before it leaves the ports and these are the things that cause delays,” he said.

The deputy minister stated that it was for this reason that the government had decided to reduce activities of the over 16 agencies at the ports.

He said the government was taking gradual steps to bring efficiency as well as reduce the cost of doing business at the ports.

Remove miscellaneous fee on consignment

The President of the GNCCI, Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, called for the removal of a fee charged as miscellaneous on consignment due for clearance by agents and port officials.

He explained that the fee which was originally meant to cover the cost of photocopies and bribes to agents and officials inflated the cost of doing business at the ports and therefore needed to be thoroughly reviewed and scrapped.

 “Our interaction at the ports shows that miscellaneous covers cost of photocopies and bribes. If agents are being paid their agency fees, photocopying costs at maximum price of GH¢20, how come miscellaneous component ends us taking a significant share of the total cost on consignment?” he asked.

Review seven days free rent

He also said before the implementation of the paperless initiative the government must take steps to address the seven days free rent shippers were enjoying when clearing goods at the ports.

According to him, in reality shippers were not enjoying the seven free days since the days included weekends, public holidays and other activities.

“The issue of the seven days rent free needs to be reviewed. Effectively, the seven days rent free should commensurate with the working days at the ports,” he said.

He said the GNCCI was resolute in the delivery of targeted business-support services towards improving private sector performance in the country.