Vice President Bawumia
Vice President Bawumia has expressed serious concern about the conduct of some officers and men of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the National Security Operatives at the country’s two main ports – Tema and Takoradi habours.
He is highly convinced that some of these officials are those undermining the effective implementation of the paperless regime at the various ports.
Speaking as a special guest of honour at the 2018 Accra Mall Mobex Technology Expo under the theme ‘Enhancing Economic Prosperity Through Retail Technology and Financial Innovation’ in Accra yesterday, he noted that while we are on a mission to digitize Ghana, we have to be very aware that new systems will only be as good as the people who implement them.
His reason was that new systems disrupt the status quo and therefore one can expect resistance from beneficiaries of the status quo. He said our experience with the implementation of the paperless system at the ports was a case in point.
He admitted to the fact that since the implementation of the paperless regime at the port last September, significant progress had been made.
The Vice President said that was evident in the fact that data from GCNET indicates that 48% of containers are cleared within 24 hours and 70% of containers are cleared within 72 hours.
While he considered this as an improvement, he insisted, “It is still not good enough for us.”
Dr Bawumia stated that notwithstanding the new systems that have been implemented, there are concerted efforts to circumvent the paperless system both by customs officials and supposedly national security operatives.
“I understand that some officials at the port are demanding documents from importers for stamping. This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new paperless regime”, he stressed with rage.
Henceforth, he has issued a stern warning that no official should demand from any importer documents (except the waybill and bill of lading) for stamping or any other purpose during the clearance process because all the relevant documents are online.
According to him, “We hear of payments to custom officials through mobile money channels to circumvent the paperless process.”
He, therefore, announced new reforms taking effect from 1st July which includes the decision that “the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the port has been reduced from 16 to 3 (Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority and Customs). National Security or NACOB will join based on intelligence.”
Government has also directed that “the compliance stage of the clearance process has been abolished since it has become redundant under the new system”, a function to be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB).
Besides, it has established a Task Force to monitor the implementation of the paperless system at the ports on a daily basis and provide reports for action where bottlenecks arise.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent