GRA hopeful of revenue rise as paperless regime at port begins

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Mr Emmanuel Nti — Commissioner General, GRA
Mr Emmanuel Nti — Commissioner General, GRA

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is set to increase revenue collections from the ports by ensuring that the various loopholes that give rise to leakages are plugged.

The authority intends to achieve this by strictly enforcing the paperless form of processing documents for traders and their value chain operators at the Tema and Takoradi ports.

The paperless regime is due to take off on September 1, after which all transactions at the twin ports will be migrated from paper-base to electronic.

After spending quality time and resources preparing for the migration, the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said the GRA was now in a better position to roll out what could become a game changer for the country’s trade facilitation agenda.

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If done well, Mr Nti said, paperless transaction could serve as a window of opportunity that would help reduce the turnaround time, maximise revenues and endear the ports to shippers within the sub-region.

“That could be translated into increased investments in the economy,” the commissioner-general said at a media sensitisation workshop in Accra.
The one-day event was meant to sensitise journalists to the new regime to be able to help educate the public.

However, the staff of the GRA and the teams working on the paperless transaction project failed to provide practical details on how the system would work, prompting the participants to request a presentation on the paperless migration.

An official of the authority later explained that the paperless transaction would usher in a new regime where all stakeholders at the ports would operate from one point.

It will also replace the queues and stampedes that normally characterised payments for port-related services, processing of documents and identification and assessment of cargoes.

Call for support

Mr Nti appealed to the public for collaboration from all to help make the migration a success.

He was convinced that the paperless clearing of goods and processing of documents at the twin ports would help eliminate bureaucracy, reduce time wasting and cut out fraud and other corrupt practices that had long engulfed activities at the ports.

No further delays

Once the paperless transaction kicks off on September 1, the various trade facilitation bodies at the ports will be expected to operate from one unit while documents pertaining to the clearance of goods or exports will no longer be done through paper.

Although a World Trade Organisation (WTO) requirement, Ghana has lagged behind in ensuring that electronic platforms replace paper at the ports.

The idea was first mooted in 2009 alongside the consolidation of the various tax collection units into what is now known as GRA.

In 2012, a fresh attempt to go paperless was stalled as some of the stakeholders in the value chain were found to be unprepared.
The idea was, however, resurrected by the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, earlier this year.

Now, the GRA’s commissioner-general says all stakeholders are well prepared to make the migration a reality.

Mr Nti commended the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet) and West Blue "for working tirelessly" to ensure that the country was now in a position to roll out the project.

Although most people hardly initiate projects that seek to change society for the better, Mr Nti said most Ghanaians were always quick "to pull things down" when they started and thus called for such habits to be stopped.— GB