A report on the single window system at the ports has revealed successful operational activities that are making various processes at the ports easier and more effective. This was after customs had successfully taken over the activities of the Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) on September 1, 2015, using the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) as their main tool. The report, which was commissioned by West Blue, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily Graphic, noted that attendance was encouraging for the first week of the project. Consequently, the supervisors have been tasked to ensure optimum attendance throughout every day of the week.
On productivity, the report identified an upward trend as customs operators gained confidence in the regime as well as the technical and navigational aspects. However, it said the Technical Services Bureau (TSB) was yet to realise the benchmarked figure of 500 Import Declaration Forms (IDFs) per day as was processed by the DICs, adding that “there was a high rate of IDFs submitted to the DICs on the eve of the cutover.” Meanwhile, the report said: “We anticipate normalcy in Week 2.”
The report also noted that the rejection rate at the TSB was deemed to be rather high, controls were relaxed and editable fields permitted to enable customs officers to update areas of basic errors instead of sending out a query to the declarant. “The Help Desk operatives will require enhanced support on managing the quantitative and qualitative aspect of call handling”, it added. The report said there was an overwhelming level of calls on declarants with issues on registration and password resets in the first week, but “these have since been resolved with registration queries now almost negligible.”
The report said customs field officers were mobilised to Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Tema and Takoradi ports to support declarants. An enhanced frequently asked question (FAQ) and “IDF Status Check” has been created at the declarant level. In the technical area, the report said the PAARS application was stable throughout the period. “Users, that is declarants and officers, suggested enhancements, which were analysed and incorporated where relevant. Minor bugs identified were also fixed,” the report added. “The fibre connection to TSB due to delays experienced with AMA was not completed until last Friday. This meant we were not able to swiftly execute our Contingency Plan of Load Balancing and switching networks. This has cost us two days of work, due to the extremely slow and intermittent access that was experienced by declarants”, the report said.
It said bandwidth was being increased with close monitoring of the daily usage. The report said an optimum level was estimated shortly where a network device upgrade would be concluded. It said the toll free helpline service provider encountered challenges with registering the transition helpline number on all the mobile networks, adding that “MTN and GLO are live with Vodafone, Airtel and Tigo yet to come on this week.” A Tax Identification Number (TIN) mismatch challenge was encountered on day one of ‘Go Live’. “PAARS is designed with the new TIN Format of the Declarant as the Unique Identifier”, the report said. It said the old TIN format was maintained in the GCNET platform during the registration of the declarant in past years, with GCNET maintaining the importer’s TIN as the unique identifier.
“This mismatch meant that on pulling a transaction from GCNET onto PAARS, the “handshake” was not achieved, causing declarants not to find their otherwise submitted application in PAARS. This cost us two days of work and an overwhelming level of incoming calls to the Help Desk”, the report said. A technical meeting was convened between customs division, West Blue and GCNET and a solution to incorporate old TIN in the PAARS, and a re-registering of declarants with GCNET was agreed and executed, adding that “there have been a few minor CCVR integration issues but these are under control.” On communications, the report said the Customs Management would be reviewing the situation and contingency arrangements would be announced if the situation requires it.