“We have gone back to the printing of all documents”, GIFF laments.

The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has lately expressed worry over the avoidable delays emanating from challenges of the paperless clearance system under the management of the Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), implemented to rather facilitate the clearance process in the port.

In a recent statement, GIFF described that belonging to a past period comparatively close to the present when the paperless port system was implemented under the GCNET and Westblue systems, vehicles could be cleared within four (4) hours and thus aiding the ease of business and trade facilitation. However, the present situation of the paperless system under the ICUMS rather seems to be a greater challenge for its members as clearing of vehicles now is processed within a five (5) week window which is unacceptable.

In addition, GIFF pointed out that aside from the challenges faced in the paperless port system lately, there are other major problems relating to Vehicle Valuation Calculus Tool, Manifest matching, post entries, call center, default freight station, long delays in clearance of goods and several other aspects of cargo clearing in the industry.  In relation to the long delays in goods clearance by the ICUMS, accrued interest charges, state warehouse rent, demurrage and other extra charges are all borne by the forwarder who has not faulted.

Under the challenge of Vehicle Valuation Calculus Tool, GIFF further pointed out that “Declarants are unable to determine prior to the arrival of vehicles, the duty involved in the clearance of vehicles. Clarity should be brought to bear on values of vehicles due to the nature of vehicle valuation so equity will prevail”.

“Another major calculus problem is that of declarations with duty exempt status. The tax base amount for VAT in these situations is flawed and this has led to improper duty payments which will give rise to future litigation and refund requests”.

Still on the challenge of Vehicle Valuation Calculus, the institute said “Declaration created an assessment accepted by Declarant A can as well be created with the same Bill of Lading by Declarant B without any red flags by the system. Declarants can have e-Dos, electronically request for service and complete payment and yet won’t have the name of examination officer.”

On the challenge at the Call Center, GIFF said “The Call Centre has virtually become non-productive as Agents move from the GPHA towers to the Customs Long Room in search of solutions to problems. This cannot be normal. It only points to inadequate training, systemic challenges, non-user friendliness of the system and that the business processes in the system have not been properly mapped.”

GIFF compiled these and many other challenges of the paperless port system under the ICUMS in a document and presented to the government to seek immediate intervention. In a recent petition to the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Institute urged the government to take the challenges seriously in order to resolve the challenges regarding the clearance system under ICUMS in order to facilitate trade in the sector.

Source: BFT News

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