Government is hopeful that a strict implementation of the ‘First Port of Call Rule’ will aid the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) meet its target.

The Rule provides an avenue for the duty of goods destined for neighbouring countries to be paid in Ghana as a way of curbing smuggling.
Last year the GRA fell short of an amount of GH₵ 2 billion as it collected GH₵22 billion out of GH₵24 billion targeted.

Speaking at the 2019 International Customs Day in Accra yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Kwarteng, said measures are being put in place to help the GRA meet its target.

He mentioned that the practice of diverting imports meant for neighboring countries back into the country makes domestic trade uncompetitive, driving traders out of business and deepening unemployment.

He pointed out that government would implement the ‘First Port of Call Rule’ on March 1, 2019 to handle the situation, and called on the Customs division to seriously police the tracking devices mounted on vehicles that convey transit imported goods.

Kwaku Kwarteng said the work of Customs is critical to the growth of the economy hence, its failure to live up to expectations in its revenue mobilization efforts pose serious threat to the nation.

He said there was the need for diligence, honesty, integrity, and vigilance on the part of Customs of all rules and regulations that cover the movement of goods, people and transport across countries.

The Minister reiterated the need for certainty, fast, safe and reliable mode of goods delivery at the ports in the country saying, “the processes and procedures for the importation, exportation and clearance of goods must be convenient, timely and certain.”

The Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Emmanuel Kofi Nti, in his welcome address, charged Customs to take the leading role in consolidation and amplifying the ongoing efforts that are geared towards easing the flow and movements of goods and people across borders.

He said in so doing, they would be able to turn globisation into a positive force that would enhance trade among nations and markets.
The event was under the theme: “SMART Boarders for Seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.”

According to him, SMART Borders concept is aimed at strengthening the whole-of-government efforts to facilitate trade and travel and also to mitigate threats inherent in the cross-border flow of goods, people and means of transport.

He described the SMART approach as a laudable innovation which would re-engineer processes while applying new technologies and achieving interconnected global value that will foster economic growth.

He said with the enforcement of SMART project, Customs would have to ensure that some guiding principles which include ensuring the enhancement of supply-chain security based on mutual trust and transparency, measuring the actual performance of customs in facilitating trade and controlling borders, automation of the underpinning every aspect of a modern customs administration and an intelligent driven data-enhanced risk management.

The GRA boss also averred that there was the need for customs to take critical look at exploring ICT solutions to avoid digital disruptions, whilst assuring that Customs division of GRA has placed itself in readiness to move with the current trends.

According to him, government has taken some bold steps in ensuring smooth operations at the ports which will enhance Seamless Trade across borders.

Kofi Nti mentioned that, the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) as part of the Single window system and the establishment of the Customs Technical Services Bureau which enhances quick turn-around time for goods at major ports, the paperless clearance of goods and the Cargo Tracking Note were all implemented to achieve Seamless Trade across borders.

He indicated that the cargo division of GRA will continue to cooperate with neighboring countries to ensure that there is a Seamless movement of people, goods and transport within the enclave sub-region to help the achievement of the needed economic growth.

As part of the celebration, WCO certificates were presented to some institutions and Customs officers who made sterling contributions to successful customs operations in the past year.

Credit: The Finder

(By John Elliot HAGAN)