Business News of 2014-02-24

Paperless clearing at ports to take off

The Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) has appealed to importers and clearing agents to migrate onto the paperless component of the TradeNet electronic systems by April this year, to facilitate clearing at the ports and reduce delays.

According to GCNet, the system, which is already in use on a pilot basis in Takoradi and the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), would facilitate clearing at the country’s entry points and reduce the human interference which leads to delays.

GCNet made the appeal at a day’s workshop it organised for importers and clearing agents to sensitise them on the new trends and improvements in the clearing process at the various ports through the systems.

The Manager in charge of TradeNet, Mr Jonathan Ofori, said the exercise became necessary because the clearing system introduced in 2002 to make customs clearing seamless had undergone substantial upgrades, as it had not been fully utilised by all stakeholders and end-users.

GCNet is the information technology company which provides customs management system for the clearing of goods at the country’s ports.

Mr. ofori stressed that the presentation of inaccurate details on imported goods impeded smooth processing and was one of the main causes of delays.

Mr. Ofori took the participants through the differences between the new and old systems, to demonstrate the negative impact of the continued use of paper during the clearing process, adding that some importers, either under pretence or ignorance, gave wrong descriptions of their imported goods, causing difficulties when processing their documents.

An Assistant Commissioner (Customs Division) of the Ghana Revenue Authority in charge of Import and Export, Mr. Wallace Akondor, expressed concern about the growing number of unregistered declarants who operated without computers and any form of electronic systems and, therefore, could not be hooked onto the customs electronic clearing platform.

Such operations, he stated, posed challenges for the full implementation of a paperless system and, therefore, advised clearing agents to open offices, deploy computers and hire qualified persons to work for them where necessary, saying “you cannot do business without adhering to rules that go with it.”

Mr. Akondor urged those who gave out their user credentials and authorisation to unqualified people (also known as Goro Operators) to desist from the practice and rather encourage them to set themselves up adequately for the business.

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