Business News of 2014-03-11

Close work at 7:30pm- Gov't tells port officials

Government would soon review the existing customs laws to allow officials at the ports to work up till 7:30pm each day.
Trade and Industry Minister, Haruna Iddrissu, who disclosed this in an interview in Accra said the move was to correct issues bedeviling the country's ports.
“This will ensure that time and transaction cost of clearance of goods and service are improved,” he stated. Customs officials at the ports currently close work at 3:30pm.
Recently, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) expressed worry about what it described as cumbersome clearance procedures at the Tema Port, and appealed to Government to address the situation in order not to worsen the agitation among traders and importers.
The causes of delays at the port, the association noted, included the multiple and repetitive activities of regulatory agencies, delays by cumbersome customs clearance processes, excessive port documentation and the uncertainty resulting from differences in interpretation of laws and provisions.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, each day of delay in shipping time increases the cost of manufactured goods by about 0.8 per cent. These delays, the organization noted, also prevented manufacturing companies from meeting production targets, as well as paying of high rent and demurrage on imported inputs.
In a solidarity message to Customs on the ‘World Customs Day,’ observed in Accra recently, Jacob Adorkor, Acting Director of Tema Port, asked Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to take measures to improve on systems designed to facilitate cargo movements at the ports.
“Rather than going back to the old manual systems of cargo movements, the Customs administration should take measures to improve any weaknesses observed in the Electronic Data Interchange System, the electronic surveillance, and the container scanning systems innovations,” he said.
Mr Adorkor said such measures would reduce delays in cargo clearance and its associated escalation of transaction costs. He said the GPHA had acquired additional cargo handling equipment and marine crafts to enhance efficiency in marine operations and maritime security and that the ports were also going through some technological transformation that would see the complete automation of all port processes by 2017.
He suggested that shippers must be made to provide advance reliable cargo information on shipments to enable pre-clearance documentation and processes to start before the arrival of the vessel to prevent the payment of high rent charges and demurrage.