Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), as part of the Ghana National Single Window Project, has established electronic payment zones at some major ports in the country.
This is expected to facilitate payment of port charges and other services by exporters to the Authority. Exporters in the past have had to endure several bottlenecks in transacting business with the GRA and the proposed arrangement will make it more flexible for shippers and other stakeholders.
Head of Information Technology at the Customs Division of the GRA, Albert Akurugu speaking to the media after the Nigerian Export Promotion Council a paid a courtesy call on the GRA’s Technical Support Bureau in Accra, noted that structures to house the e zone facility are already in place at the Kotoka International Airport, Tema Port and the GRA headquarters, adding that Takoradi port and other boarder entries would be rolled out soon.
“The creation of E-Zone at the ports is to serve as a one stop shop for all exporters. This forms part of measures under the GNSW project to synchronize operations at the port”, He stated.
The interaction with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council offered an opportunity for both countries to share experiences towards the promotion of a growing ECOWAS economy.
The Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo, who led the delegation, commended Ghana on the successes chalked despite the short implementation period of the GNSW project.
He noted that since inter African trade is relatively low, a proper collaboration and implementation of the single window project on the continent would facilitate huge volumes of trade. “Today it is easier to export/import from Europe, USA than to do same with neighbouring countries. A harmonized single window project on the continent would transform who we do business among ourselves”.
The Commissioner-General of G.R.A. George Blankson, on his part advised the two countries to pay more attention to export of value added products, adding that this would ensure the development of a country.
He also advised the universal banks to come up with flexible and affordable products and services to facilitate trade among the sub region. He stressed that such products and services from the banks would greatly help in formalizing informal trade among these countries.
The purpose of the visit was to enable the delegation from Nigeria abreast themselves with the successful implementation of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) being implemented by GRA with support from West Blue Consulting Limited.
The PAARS is a modernized system that has been developed by the Customs Division of GRA as part of the implementation of the GNSW project to enhance revenue mobilization, improve border security and customs clearance, overcome duplication across regulatory agencies and promote trade facilitation.
The CEO of West Blue, Valentina Mintah, noted that the improvements introduced by the PAARS system are already having a dramatic impact on the time required to do business and the other elements of the programme such as Integrated Risks Assessment, IDF, and e-letter of credit, will have similar strong effects.
The successful implementation of the PAARS has increased revenue generation at the Tema and Takoradi ports. Revenue mobilized by Customs Division of GRA in 2015 increased by 1.66 per cent from GH¢8036.23 million to GH¢8169.55 million as a result of the implementation of the PAAR.
Before the implementation of the PAARS, the Customs Division of GRA hardly achieved its target. Revenue target for 2014 was GH¢7010.32 million and the GRA was able to collect GH¢6865.20 million and in 2013 revenue target was 5993.42 million and it collected GH¢5372.42 million, according to figures from the GRA.
Since the introduction of the GNSW’s PAARS last year, traders are able to access Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) within 48 hours.
Based on the experience of the Single Window implementations in other countries, West Blue estimates that the GNSW project would reduce the cost and time of international trade (import, export and transit) in Ghana by 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively over the next five years.
“Trade efficiency is a key determinant of investment decisions by international business and the positioning of Ghana as a trade efficient and trade friendly country will greatly enhance its attractiveness to such investors”. Madam Mintah noted.