The new Commissioner-General of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Kofi Nti, has expressed confidence in having a paperless system under the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project that will help enhance trade facilitation in the country.
He made this known after touring the Customs Technical Bureau office located at the Ministries in Accra last Thursday.
He stated that “the good thing about this project is that once there is data, nobody can hide and do anything bad. With the biometric system, Customs can no longer play truancy.”
“Going forward, as revenue authority, we want to treat taxpayers as customers. We want to treat them with decency; we want to have a very good relationship with them. And through that, we will prop those who need it.”
To this end, he said, “we believe we should have a system where the tax payers are able to interact with us and we provide them with response. We want to improve the system that we have in place. We want to make it better than what we have now; that is our vision going forward.”
On undervaluation and non-compliance of payment of duties, Mr Nti said the GRA would look at the current sanction regime and make it stronger so that at the end of the day, “it isn’t us who will be accused but the people who come and attract our people and get them to do wrong and they will also bear the consequences.”
Successes chalked up
A Senior Revenue Officer of the Customs Division of GRA, Albert Akurugu, said despite West Blue’s short span on the project, it successfully implemented the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) and other key components of the project.
The PAARS is a modernised system that has been developed by the Customs Division of GRA as part of the implementation of the GNSW project to enhance revenue mobilisation, improve border security and customs clearance, overcome duplication across regulatory agencies and promote trade facilitation.
He revealed that the project, which aims at reducing delays at the ports and maximising revenue for the government, had achieved 80 per cent success rate.
Mr Akurugu noted that the GRA could not meet its revenue target in the first year of the GNSW project implementation last year but it had improved revenue generation.
He added that the project had led to “28.7 per cent improvement in GRA-Customs import duties and levies in 2016.”
Since the introduction of the GNSW’s PAARS last year, traders are able to access Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) within 48 hours.
“In some cases, it is within an hour, and that is substantial improvement from the previous situation where it used to take traders more than a week or two weeks just to get their CCVR,” Mr Akurugu stated.
Touching on the enhancement of the system, the Deputy Head of Project Delivery Unit at West Blue Consulting, Mr Adedapo Adegoke, was quick to add that the system had integrated Used Vehicle Valuation with Ghana Customs Management Systems (GCMS), a Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) platform last month.
Pre-population of CCVR data in GCMS, validation of key data elements of CCVR and Declaration, bill of Lading/Airway Bill; Gross and Net Weight (Net under review in view of appeals),PAARS auto rejection of undervalued transactions with system adjustment and channeling of New Vehicles to Vehicle Valuation Desk were undertaken.
Ghana has moved an impressive 13 places up on the Trading Across Borders in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report.
The report attributed the performance to the GNSW project initiated by the government.
The Doing Business 2017 report, titled ‘’Equal Opportunity for All’, showed that Ghana was placed at position 108 out of 190 countries surveyed in the Overall Ranking of Ease of Doing Business – an improvement from 111 in the previous report.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the country ranked in the top 10, coming 9th, out of the 47 countries ranked in the region. This is evidence that the Government of Ghana is pursuing active reforms to ensure the Ease of Doing Business in Ghana.
Meanwhile, the new Commissioner-General of GRA, as part of his working tour of the office, also inaugurated an e-zone centre or help desk. This is the third e-zone to be inaugurated after the Kotoka International Airport, and Tema Port e-zones.
Plans are afoot to open more e-zones across the country to provide excellent services to exporters and importers.
The e-zone facilities which were set up as part of the GNSW project will provide 24/7 customer services to exporters and importers in the country.
The facility also provides services, including payments, self-service, and multimedia trade information to speed up business transactions.
With the establishment of the facilities, the more than decade-old challenges of transacting businesses at the ports are over.
The Customs Division of GRA took over the processing of the CCRV from the destination companies in September 2015. The CCRV replaced the destination inspection report, also known as the Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR).