Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has announced the government’s decision to review the operation of the paperless port system to bring about more efficiency, improve revenue collection and rein in corruption.
He said from July 01, the number of agencies undertaking joint inspections at the ports would be reduced from 16 to three – Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Officers from the National Security or Narcotic Controls Board would join based on intelligence.
The government on September 1, last year, introduced the paperless port system to promote efficiency, reduce the turnaround time of vessels and minimise the human interface to reduce corruption.
The Vice President, speaking at the launch of the ‘Mobex Africa Tech Expo’ – a technology trade show, in Accra, said he found it shocking, reports that some officials at the ports had been demanding documents from importers for stamping.
“This is ridiculous and should not happen under the new bill and bill of laden for stamping or any other purpose during the clearance process.”
He added that there had also been reports of payments being made to customs officials through mobile money channels to circumvent the paperless process.
Vice President Dr Bawumia reminded the public that all relevant documents for clearing goods at the ports were online and that the compliance stage of the clearance process had been abolished because it had become redundant under the new system.
That function would be undertaken by the Customs Technical Services Bureau.
He said the nation was on track to digitise the economy but it should not be lost on anybody that “the beneficiaries of the old system, would want to push back and to cause distraction”.
The paperless port system had brought significant gains – improved the clearance of goods and services and raised government’s revenue.
According to data from the Ghana Community Network (GCNet), 43 per cent of containers are cleared within 24 hours, and about 70 per cent of them cleared within 72 hours.
The three-day Expo is being organised by the Coaster Company Limited under the theme: “Enhancing economic prosperity through retail technology and financial innovation”.
It has provided the platform for innovators, young entrepreneurs and policy-makers to discuss strategies to leverage technology to facilitate economic growth and attract investment.