Representatives from the EU, member states and European chambers of commerce met with the commissioner for customs, Mr. Isaac Crentsil, together with the representative from the office of the vice president responsible for infrastructure development, Mrs. Khadija Amoah on 17th May 2019. The UKGCC was represented by its Executive Director, Adjoba Kyiamah.
The Commissioner for customs emphasised the GRA’s determination to swiftly implement the reforms announced by the VP in April 2019, in particular, to lower rates of physical inspection of containers to 10% by July 2019 and fully implement the national Single window.
The Commissioner gave a status update as of May 2019, on paperless clearing system and was happy to report that the turn around time for clearing goods has reduced to a minimum of one day and a maximum of three days.
He added that they are in the process of creating the single window to resolve the issue of dealing with the many regulatory agencies at the port. Also, the total number of regulatory agencies that importers have to deal with at the port are now only three.
He explained that shipped containers are grouped into three categories and labelled as follows:
- green – no inspection required;
- Yellow – to go through the scanner;
- Red – requires physical inspection and most likely flagged as high risk by one of the regulatory agencies.
According to the Commissioner, currently 40% of the container traffic is green; 30% is yellow; and the remaining 30% red. He also explained that the recently announced reduction on import duties are being applied on the assessed values of all imported products and not just benchmarked values.
He also provided a status update on the introduction of the Cargo Tracking Number (CTN) system, its benefits and its challenges. He explained the importance of keeping the CTN and making it mandatory for all importers without exception. He admitted that the system has brought mixed results in terms of compliance but increased revenue.
The Commissioner explained that the inspection reforms are being done with the support of the UK government. They are also getting support from UK Border force on dealing with the problem of smuggling due to the porous nature of our borders, particularly on the Togo side.
In response to a question, the Commissioner explained that pre-shipment inspections are being done and will continue to be done on a case by case basis as has been the case for years now.
Regarding the status of Foreign Economic Agents operating at Ghana’s ports, Mrs. Amoah clarified that the 2015 Customs law would be amended and that the local content restrictions would apply only to new entrants.
Mrs. Amoah asked all to be patient till July when the new port terminal 3 will be in use and it will be a much better experience for importers. As she explained, almost all of the challenges being faced by importers are infrastructure related and not related to the quality of the people employed at the Ports.
The meeting came to an end with the agreement that a tour will be arranged for the European business chambers and their members to tour the new terminal three to see what is happening there and see for themselves how port services have been improved.