The operator of Ghana’s National Single Window project, West Blue Consulting has introduced an online payment system to facilitate prompt clearance of goods in the nation’s seaports.
Besides lowering the cost of doing business at the country’s ports, it will also eliminate the hiccups experienced by port users in the old method of clearing cargo.
The firm, which also midwifes the pre-assessment risk reports (PAARS) for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said in a statement obtained by THISDAY at the weekend that the online payment solution for cross border trade was successfully launched in Accra, Ghana.
Describing it as the “first of its kind” in the West African sub region, it said the new payment system offers shippers (importers/exporters) easy and flexible payment options.
These include card payment (Visa and MasterCard), mobile money powered by telecoms operators and the various online payment platforms of commercial banks.
The Ghana National Single Window system 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 for trade documents.
West Blue Consulting developed the PAARS for Ghana Customs. It was flagged off on September 1, 2015, and its implementation is to compliment the country’s single window environment.
PAARS has already significantly reduced the time and cost of doing cross border trade in Ghana. Previously it takes an average of two weeks for trade documents to be processed.
According to it, the PAARS implementation has cut processing time for complaint cases to two days and in some cases two hours.
The statement added that the objective of the Ghana National Single Window system is to enhance her trade competitiveness by 50 per cent within the next five years. The system will save Ghanaian tax payers no less than $200 million annually.
“The new system comes with multiple advantages such as secured transactions, increased transparency, and financial inclusion. It new system of payment frustrates the use of cloned or forged trade documents. The system has rendered obsolete paper invoices and bank confirmations with the attendant delay and inconvenience to members of the trading community”, it said.
The firm also stated that the significance of new payment lies in the fact that the new addition to the single window project will make it possible for port users to clear and take delivery of their consignments within 24hours”.
Already, the Director General of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Mr. Richard Anamoo, commended the firm for deploying the innovative IT solutions to modernise Ghana’s cross border trade, saying it will aid trade facilitation.
According to the statement, the GPHA boss made the remarks while on a one-day working visit to the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB), a unit under the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), to familiarise himself with the operations of the Bureau and implementation of the country’s Pre-arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) developed by West Blue Consulting.
Anamoo acknowledged the quality of the technical support being provided by West Blue Consulting to the Revenue Authority via Ghana Customs (CEPS), especially in the implementation of the Ghana national single window project.
In his remarks, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr. George Blankson, explained that the Ghana Single Window system has made it possible for Ghanaian importers and exporters to electronically lodge their documents, including customs declarations, certificates of origin, invoices at a single location to be accessed by all regulatory and trade agencies, instead of they sending copies of the same documents to different agencies.