The government has started feasibility studies to implement the second phase of the National Single Window project.
The feasibility studies, which is expected to end in April this year, would be followed by the automation of the processes and the procedures involved in the second phase of the project.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of West Blue Consulting, Madam Valentina Mintah revealed this to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS at the sidelines of an Information Communication Technology (ICT) office launch in Accra.
The Single Window System, introduced by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, primarily provides the platform for an integrated clearance process to minimise the human factor as much as possible and, to a large extent, help to reduce the processing time trade documents.
After 15 years of operating with destination inspection companies (DICs), the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority took over that task on September 1, last year, to enhance customs functions as a stop-gap measure to improve on trade facilitation.
The concept also provides an opportunity for importers and exporters to electronically lodge their documents, including customs declarations, certificates of origin and invoices at a single location to be accessed by all regulatory and trade agencies, instead of traders sending copies of the same documents to different agencies.
The new system being implemented by West Blue Consulting is in collaboration with GCNet Service and other scanning companies at the port.
Madam Mintah said West Blue Consulting expressed gratitude for the support Single Window system had received in the country.
According to her, the second phase of the projects entails the feasibility study which looks at the gaps and needs analyses of import and export, transit processes, recovering areas, business processes, Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and legal framework among others.
“Currently we have started feasibility study which is visiting all the stakeholders and understanding the ICT platforms they have in place so that we can integrate and make sure that there is coordination in the processes,” she said.
She said adequate preparations had already been made to ensure a successful execution of the project, and added that customs and partner government agencies as well as clients were ready.
She, however, charged all stakeholders to be vigilant to stem both internal and external risks that might arise during the operations such as the behaviour of customs officials and sabotage of the system.
President commends single window initiative
President John Dramani Mahama, in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Finance Minister, Mr Seth Terkper, commended the introduction of the Single Window policy.
He said the Government of Ghana as part of the tax administration reforms during the 2013 Annual Budget and Fiscal Policy declared the phasing out of the Destination Inspection Scheme (DICs) that had been operational for a many years and was responsible for classification, as well as valuation of goods and services for customs purposes.
"Following this policy direction, the Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs Division in September 2015 effectively took over this primary customs function in line with international best practices and as recommended by international agencies such as World Trade Organisation and the World Customs Organisation", he stated.
According to him, in line with government's policy of streamlining international trade initiatives and operations as well as complement government's current macroeconomic stabilisation and growth enhancing efforts.
He said the government intended to improve the business environment by implementing policies such as the creation of the National Single Window, consistent with government's recognition of the private sector as a key building block for continued economic growth and development.
He noted that the introduction of the Single Window was, therefore, a clear and bold statement of intent by the government to address some challenges of doing business in Ghana and added that an issue that was of major concern to both the government and the private sector.
"These inefficiencies in doing business are expensive to the economy and increase the cost of goods which is borne ultimately by both consumers and producers in the economy," he said at the 64th International Customs Day in Accra.
It is estimated in Ghana that cost to export which covers the time and cost for obtaining, preparing and submitting documents during port or border handling customs clearance and inspection procedures is about US$490, compared to estimates for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries which is about US$160.
The time and cost for the documentary compliance including obtaining, preparing, presenting, submitting documents are equivalent to about five days, compared to the sub-saharan Africa average of two days.
He said the government would continue to introduce ICT-related programmes in order to enhance trade in the country. — GB