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Study to assess turnaround time in goods clearance underway

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Yaw Baffour Asare (left), Deputy Customs Commissioner, Petroleum Operations, interacting with Dr Alex Yeboah (middle), Air-cargo Safety Inspector, GCAA and Emmanuel Owusu-Boakye (right), Deputy Customs Commissioner, Preventive, after the event.

The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has initiated a project to assess the average turnaround time in the goods clearance process at the country’s seaports.

The project, Time Release Study (TRS), is an internationally accepted strategic tool of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to measure the actual time taken for the release and/or clearance of goods - from the time of arrival until the physical release of cargo.

To be completed in the next six months, the study seeks to further improve effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures relating to imports, exports and transit movements of goods.

Consequently, the Division has secured technical and financial support from WCO, German Development Agency (GIZ) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct TRS for the first time in Ghana.

Pre-engagement workshop

It held a stakeholder pre-engagement workshop in Accra on May 12, to discuss the role of other stakeholders in the customs clearance process, flow and identifiable time stamps and other matters that are considered as germane to the successful and seamless roll-out of the study.

Representative that participated in the day’s workshop included officials from Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFARI), Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Meridian Port Services (MPS).

Others are Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Investigation Bureau (NIB).

Identify bottlenecks

Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the workshop, the Deputy Commissioner of Customs in-charge of Petroleum Operations, Yaw Baffour Asare, said the project sought to identify associated bottlenecks objectively and address them in an efficient and effective manner.

He said the WCO TRS was specifically referenced in Article 7.6 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as a tool for members to measure and publish the average release time of goods.

He said in recent years, the tool had been capturing a lot of attention worldwide; the international donor community and the WCO development partners were recommending it as a key performance measure to assess, evaluate, and enhance the implementation of the WTO TFA.

He said this project would further reduce the cost and time of doing business at the country’s point of entries.

Trade facilitation

The Team Leader in-charge of Trade Facilitation and Import Management at MoTI, Kyeremeh Yeboah, noted that carrying the study to measure the time it took for consignment to move at the land borders and ports was crucial to help facilitate trade.

She said the legal basis was the WCO trade facilitation agreement which indicated that member states were supposed to undertake the time release study to actually show and establish the time it took for goods to move from the ports.

“With that Customs will be able to tell the WCO that the country is facilitating trade and so the legal basis for the project is the WCO trade facilitation agreement,” he said.

He added that this was part of the category (C) measures of the WCO agreement which was signed in 2017.

Keynote

- The Customs Division of the GRA has secured technical and financial support from the World Customs Organisation , German Development Agency (GIZ) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct TRS for the first time in Ghana.

- The project is expected to further reduce the cost and time of doing business at the country’s point of entries.