Let’s remove bottlenecks in the way of Single Window

BY: Daily Graphic
Let’s remove bottlenecks in the way of Single Window
Let’s remove bottlenecks in the way of Single Window

Doing business at Ghana’s ports in the past was a nightmarish experience from which many tried to run away because of the excessive delays that characterised it.

These delays arose because of the numerous procedures, sometimes duplications, that one had to go through as one conducted business there. Along with the delays came the loss of huge sums in revenue to the state.

Due to the concerns raised by stakeholders about the slow, cumbersome and expensive clearance procedures and the nation’s desire to facilitate trade and make Ghana the trade and investment hub in the West African sub-region, there was the need for the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to synchronise all the duplications to reduce the turnaround time for businesses.

There was also the need to reduce the malpractices associated with import/export trade and transaction costs that operators encountered in clearing consignments through the ports.

The idea of a Single Window was, therefore, introduced. Developed under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the Single Window concept is aimed at harmonising and standardising international trade procedures to enhance trade among nations.

Within the country, the Single Window is supposed to have one system or platform on which all transactions emanate and terminate. The system allows for the lodgement and exchange of data and standardised information which fulfills all regulatory requirements with a single administrative document for all customs regimes.

The Daily Graphic is aware that there are still many challenges with port operations after the Single Window and the paperless system had been introduced, but we are gratified to learn that since 2015, Ghana has saved about $500 million.

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We have also learnt that as a result of the smooth implementation of the Single Window system, government revenue has increased significantly by 24 per cent over the past two years, rising from GHc774 billion in 2015 to GHc975 billion in 2017.

A University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) report, the Ghana Business Development Review, launched by the Business Development Minister, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, made it clear that the introduction of the Single Window system, apart from increasing revenue, had also made operations at the ports more effective and productive.

The creation of the national Single Window system has, no doubt, promoted investor confidence and addressed some major international trade challenges that faced the government and the private sector when doing business in the country.

It has also reduced time-consuming, face-to-face interactions and cost through minimal clerical effort and, in the process, facilitated faster goods clearance, predictability and reliability in consignment clearance.

Ghana needs all the taxes that must accrue to the country to be able to carry out the development projects that will ensure better lives for its citizens and nothing must stop this. We congratulate the port authorities and the implementing agencies on the work so far done and urge them on to achieve greater laurels for the country.

We urge the authorities to remove the remaining bottlenecks in the implementation of the Single Window policy. This way, we would have succeeded in removing the burden on importers, increasing government revenue and making Ghana the real business hub and gateway to West Africa.