The Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting have achieved some level of system integration towards the paperless reforms implementation at the country’s ports.
The collaboration between the two entities has seen GCNet configurating its system to enable it to receive the manifest on imports from West Blue.
There have been calls by many players in the industry for the two agencies to endeavour to integrate their systems if the execution of the paperless regime is to be successful; however, the posture of the two had suggested a turf war.
The Head of Product Development at GCNet, Mr Carl Sackey, told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a meeting with journalists organised by the Office of the Vice-President on the paperless reforms that hitherto, their system had to process the declarations; however, with the new initiative, the submission of the manifest though West Blue would enable that entity to begin the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) early.
The meeting was to sensitise journalists to the implementation of the paperless reforms and joint inspection of cargoes at the country’s ports aimed at achieving efficiency levels, reducing corruption and further maximising government revenue.
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Mr Sackey indicated that there had been a lot of collaborative efforts between the two agencies and the various stakeholders to push through with the reforms.
“A lot of work has been done between the two agencies in the harmonisation of operations ahead of the pilot project to be conducted in the ensuing days and the subsequent implementation of the policy on September 1, 2017,” Mr Sackey said.
He remained hopeful that the collaborations would go a long way to help with the harmonisation of port processes in the common interest of the country.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of West Blue, Ms Valentina Mintah, also indicated that the coordination between the two agencies was on course for the provision of an integration for the end-users of the platforms and processes to quickly process their applications for speedy clearance.
“We are working together to ensure that goods can be cleared in a timely and cost-effective manner,” Ms Mintah stated.
She also pointed out that the pilot project carried out for some selected stakeholders and self-declarants had left them with feedback and suggestions which would help the company improve upon the procedures.
The CEO of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Ms Benonita Bismarck, also told the Daily Graphic that the processes were new and people would be apprehensive about job security, “however, it doesn’t mean that the various stakeholders are not in support of the policy,” she added.
The policy, she noted, was a positive one for the country and ought to be embraced and its implementation pushed through.
The Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Kofi Nti, speaking during the interaction with the journalists, commended the two entities for the approaches and the collaborative efforts they had put in place to ensure the rollout of the paperless policy.
He said monumental progress had been made towards the policies on the removal of customs barriers along transit routes, paperless process of cargo clearance at the country’s ports and mandatory joint inspection of cargo.
“The idea is to ensure that the numerous port processes are simplified to reduce bureaucracy, frustration and corruption to the barest minimum,” Mr Nti mentioned.
“We are putting in place a rigorous sanction regime for non-compliant traders who will wilfully attempt to defraud the nation of the needed revenue required to finance development,” he added.
The journalists expressed worry at the low sensitisation among the various groupings and end-users on the policies.
They noted that the technicalities of the processes had not been simplified to the understanding of the general public and, therefore, urged Customs and its collaborators to step up its sensitisation programme for a smooth take-off of the project.