Analysts have commended the government for taking the bold initiative to implement the Single Window System, which requires all regulatory agencies in the import and export business to key into the Single Window platform in order to expedite trade facilitation.
The move by the government is expected to improve the global ranking of the country from 171 out of 189 countries in the World Bank trading across borders report for 2016 to 121 by 2021.
Albert Akurugu, Senior Revenue Officer, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, who disclosed this, said through the support of Technical Partner- West Blue Consulting, the Customs Division was now able to process 500 Customs Classification and Valuation Reports (CCVR) each day.
This could be compared to the 200 Final Classification and Valuation Reports (FCVR) being processed by the five Destination Inspection Companies in the past.
Mr Akurugu was speaking at a day’s training programme for members of the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) to enhance their understanding of the operations of the Single Window System.
Specifically, the training examined the operations of the Single Window System, the impact on the processing of trade documents and the contribution it is making to national revenue generation.
Mr Akurugu said there had been considerable improvement in the turnaround time as documents are processed within 48 hours as opposed to between five and 10 days under the previous regime of the Destination Inspection Companies.
The National Single Window was initiated in 2015 by government to among others, facilitate the harmonisation of trade processes within the various agencies to ensure smooth import and export business.
It allows Ghanaian 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 sending copies of the same documents to different agencies.
The Pre-arrival Reporting
It provides the necessary technical, architectural and administrative support for Ghana Customs to take over the pre- arrival classification and valuation process for import and export.
“The PAARS has significantly reduced the time and cost of doing cross-border trade in Ghana. Previously, it took an average of two weeks for trade documents to be processed; the PAARS implementation has cut processing time for complaint cases to two days and in some cases, two hours,” Mr Akurugu said.
It allows the various institutions, including the Foods and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements.
Opening the workshop, the Chief Executive Officer of West Blue, Ghana, Valentina Mintah, stressed on the important role of the media in national development, adding that West Blue’s partnership with JBA would help enhance understanding for national development.
She said the seminar would provide the JBA an opportunity to understand the national Single Window System and the benefits it holds for the country when fully implemented.
Ms Mintah said the Single Window System would help increase the competitiveness of Ghana’s national economy.
She said some of the benefits of the Single Window include enhanced trade facilitation, faster processing of CCVR, effective integration and risk management environment and reduction in revenue loss.
“The National Single Window will ensure a transition from the culture of delay and high cost of doing business to a culture of faster, simpler, automated and predictable means of processing imports, exports and transit in the country,” she added.
In a short remark, the President of JBA, Mr Suleiman Mustapha, introduced the advocacy group to the management of West Blue, spelling out its main objective of advocacy for the sustainability of Ghanaian businesses.
He said campaigns for the growth of the businesses are done with the aim of bringing to the fore the challenges, be they policy issues that inhibit expansion of the companies and liaising with duty bearers to find solutions that would be benefitial of the businesses.
Mr Uthman Oluwatoni Aminu, an official of West Blue, said a Single Window is built on the concept of a one-stop shop for the exchange of information between traders and government agencies, thereby reducing the complexity, time and costs involved in international trade.
It will also cure the bureaucracy in the system by reducing the human interface, increase transparency, fast processing and reduce cost.
He said with the single window system the goal was to enhance Ghana’s trade competitiveness by 50 per cent within the next five years, while the country would save not less than $200million annually.
“Ultimately, the benefits are to provide a 50 per cent better, faster and less-cost trading across border environment within 3 years and reduce the time and cost from from 197 hours, $645 to 100 hour, $322 USD (for export compliance) and from 564 hrs, $1,027 USD to 282 hours, $564 USD (for import compliance),”he added.