Barely over a month since the system was implemented by the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), state agency implementing the single window import documentation clearance with support from IT firm, West Blue.

The Single Window Scheme enables all players in the export and import business to lodge their documentation and access other relevant data on a common platform for stakeholders to process their documents to facilitate trade and reduce the cost and time in import, export and transit trade.

After engagement with some managers of the major freight forwarding companies to seek their views on the implementation of the scheme which started on September 01, 2015.

According to Adolph Adjei Tetteh, Managing Director of Sapholda Ventures, the scheme has reduced turn-around time and their cost of doing business at the ports.

?I used three days to clearing my goods. This is a significant difference because in the past it took about a week or a minimum of four working days to get your documents from the inspection companies.

?But this took me just three days ?meaning two more days off which is a lot of money saved because if you keep your container after seven working days you start paying demurrages and rent. That is to say, I was able to work within time not to attract these costs,? he emphasized.

The Executive Chairman of MacDan Shipping, Daniel McKorley agreed but added Customs may need to bridge some gaps.

?Where there are classification problems and the entry is queried, it takes them a long time to work on them. But if there are no such problems I can tell you I?m receiving my documents within 24 hours – which is quiet impressive. I can tell you if these reports can come out on time, we?re looking at cutting down some 20 to 30 percent of clearing cost in terms of demurrage which the government has failed to control the shipping lines in that respect? he concluded.

Additionally, Mr Tepker speaking during a visit to the new Valuation and Classification Centre at the Customs Division Head Office to see the progress of work after the Customs took over these function from the Destinations and Inspection Companies (DICs) in Accra.

He said the decision to take these function from the DICs was in accordance with the World Trade Orgnaisation agreement on customs valuation aimed at a fair, uniform and neutral system for the valuation of goods for customs purposes.

The Minister commended the staff of the DICs for the immense work done in the past, urging them to take advantage of the employment opportunities at the Customs Division to be part of the new system.
Under the System, Customs takes over the classification and valuation function, which was currently being handled by the DICs.

The new system would adopt a collaborative approach, where customs, freight forwarders, brokers, and other stakeholders, work together to provide services to Ghana?s Trading Community, supported by service providers such as GCNet, West Blue Consulting and Scanning Companies.

The arrangement is to create a synergy that utilises the core competencies of each of the stakeholders to implement a seamless, efficient and user-friendly e-clearance regime in a National Single Window environment.
Mr Kuudamnuru John Vianney, acting Commissioner, Customs Division, said users must register online to be able to process their import declaration forms.

He said since the takeover of these function from the DICs, Customs Division had been able to process over 100 Customs Classification and Valuation Reports.

He said officers of the Division have been able to learn fast on the systems to provide better, effective and efficient service to the trading community.

He, therefore, called on importers and other stakeholders to provide adequate and accurate information during the registration process for speed valuation and classification of their documents.

by Adnan Adams Mohammed

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