Paperless system: Unit to run 24hrs to ensure seamless clearance of goods

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THE Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is considering augmenting staff at the Compliance Units at the country’s ports in order to run a 24-hour service at the unit to ease the current pressure that is mounting on the unit due to the paperless clearance system.

The move is to align the Unit with the Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) unit which runs 24-hours operations to fast truck services for importers and exporters who have been calling on Customs to beef up the compliance Unit where delays have stalled the progress of the paperless clearing system.
Commissioner of Customs Isaac Crentsil, who disclosed this to Business Finder, is optimistic that once the Compliance Units operates 24-hour service to complement the CCVR unit, the delays would be eliminated.
Technological challenges resolved
He said aside the compliance unit, all other technological challenges that rocked the system since its full implementation on September 4, 2017 have been resolved.
Green belt goods cleared in 4 hours
According to him, goods that pass through the green belt are being cleared within four hours under the paperless system.
Unregistered clearing agents
He explained that some clearing agents and importers who failed to register with Customs usually complain of delays because; Customs is unable to send them notification on the progress of their entries since they are not registered with Customs.
Communication with agents
He said the current challenge customs was having with the paperless system was not being able to communicate the status of goods to clearing agents because majority of them were not registered with customs. 
“What we do is we sent them alerts on the status of their goods through text messages, because a lot of the clearing agents are not registered with customers we are unable to communicate any documentation challenge to them.”
Paperless system is here to stay
He appealed to such agents and importers to immediately register since the paperless system is here to stay.
Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders 
President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, told Business Finder that they have had documents and goods locked up for more than seven days because compliance was not forthcoming. 
He indicated that they were able to do their compliance topmost within a day when they were using the now discarded paper system. 
“The unit is a physical one within the paperless system and it is important that something is done about it. Even when you use the short code 1447 you see the status of your document as ideal and there is nothing you can do about it because you cannot move forward to go through with the other processes.”
Hiccups blamed on not piloting the scheme
Appiah said the hiccups the paperless system was facing since it took off on September 4, 2017 was as a result of not piloting the policy before implementation. “We did not get the opportunity to pilot a system that was going live so we suffered the consequences which indicates that some of things were not put in place.” 
“For instance we needed an end to end call centre that has the capacity to deliver solutions to persons who have questions about their goods. My office was turned into a call centre and we had to be picking calls from our members with challenges, questions and request, and we had to be calling people we knew for answers which should not be the case. Also the solutions that we seek from the calls that we placed are fought coming”.
2 call centres disjointed
He explained that Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) and customs both have calls centres and the issue their members have were been treated in a disjointed manner.
The situation, he said, was raising the anxiety level of people which have direct effect on their clients, and added that by the time the situation was resolved some members may be losing clients who would not care about what’s going on.
Appiah noted that the institute is 100 percent in favour of the paperless clearance system and believes that if the challenges are resolved they would have a good system to work with.
He called on the implementing agencies to get the system up and running so they could track their processes with ease.
Operating paperless alongside manual 
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Importers and Exporters Association, Sampson Asaki suggested that the paperless system should have been operated alongside the manual processes for at least few months before full implementation of the policy.
He said the magnitude of work that has been sitting in the system was worrying, adding that people have paid their duties but have still not been able to clear their goods.
He also stressed that not piloting the policy was a major challenge to the electronic interface, “prior to the national single window GCNET tried piloting at Takoradi Port and the Airport and even with that no cargo was been cleared. Tema port which is the biggest did not see any piloting before September 1.” 
Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, on Tuesday disclosed that revenue at the Port increased from GH¢130 million in the first week of September 2016, to GH¢213 million in the same period for 2017.
He said the introduction of the paperless technology has as a result tackled inefficiency and corruption at the harbour, showing a revenue collection improvement of 56 per cent.
Below is the step-by step process of the paperless port operations 

1. Traders register business and/or products with Regulatory Agencies online in compliance with existing Rules and Regulations.
2. Trader obtains UCR online.
3. Trader fills and submits Import Declaration Form (IDF) online.
IDF Fees is paid electronically via Ghana’s Trading Hub Portal using Mobile Money, Card (Visa, Gh-Link), online Banking or In-branch
4. Trader obtains required Import Licenses, Permits and Certificates for pre-arrival of goods.
Tariff Manager determines controlling agencies based on mapped and agreed HS Codes.
Fees and charges may be paid using existing modes of payment or electronically via Ghana’s Trading Hub Portal using Mobile Money, Card (Visa, Gh-Link), online Banking or In-branch
5. Airlines and Shipping Lines or their authorized third-party representatives submit manifest electronically for pre-arrival of goods in accordance with existing Rules and Regulations.
Manifest is shared real time with GPHA and all necessary systems/agencies. Amendment process is carried out online. Manifest is reconciled with the CCVR declaration for anomalies. Penalties may be paid using existing modes of payment or electronically via Ghana’s Trading Hub Portal using Mobile Money, Card (Visa, Gh-Link), online Banking or In-branch.
6. Trader Applies for CCVR online with electronic signature. Licenses, Permits and Certificates of regulatory agencies is mandatory for CCVR.
7. Risk Clearance System determines selectivity of transactions. Compliant transaction (green) are granted automatic Customs Release without Scanning or Physical Examination. Non-compliant transactions are subjected to scanning and joint inspection if anomalies are found.
8. Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) is issued electronically and transmitted seamlessly to all relevant agencies/systems.
9. Trader submits Bill of Entry online, after transmission of CCVR. Where goods are declared for Bonded Warehouse, the application will be made online via Bonded Warehouse Module, complimented by an Inventory and Bond Management System.
Duties and Fees may be paid using existing modes of payment or electronically via Ghana’s Trading Hub Portal using Mobile Money, Card (Visa, Gh-Link), online Banking or In-branch.
10. GRA Customs releases consignment online.
11. Importer/Agent submits a request electronically to the shipping lines for delivery of the consignment with the original electronic bill of lading. Importer presents the Bill of Lading to the shipping line to confirm title to gods (legally required to be paper).
12. Shipping Line issues an invoice to the customer for payment (Invoices cover freight, container deposit, demurrage and administrative charges as necessary).
13. Agent pays invoices value.
Fees and charges may be paid using existing modes of payment or electronically via Ghana’s Trading Hub Portal using Mobile Money, Card (Visa, Gh-Link), online Banking or In-branch
14. After payment to shipping line account, the shipping lines issues the delivery order to the terminal and the consignees.
15. Importer makes a request to GPHA/Terminal/ICD to take delivery of the consignment.
16. GPHA/Terminal/ICD assesses shipping line Releases status and ability to provide service by required date. GPHA/Terminal/ ICD.
17. Importer/Agent will make payment online or in branch. Receiving banking will send the electronic payment receipt to GPHA/Terminal/ICD.
18. GPHA/Terminal/ICD receives the payment. For compliant transactions, the container is positioned for delivery and an SMS/email is sent to the Importer/Agent for pick up.

a. Goods of non-compliant transactions are scanned. If no anomalies found, the goods are released. Otherwise, the goods are subjected to joint inspection.
b. Consignment is jointly inspected by all required agencies based on mapped HS Codes, aided by mobile devices for field officers.
c. If testing is required, testing will be conducted by a nominated testing agency, based on agency agreed SLAs on behalf of all, with results shared electronically.
d. If anomalies are found, compliance directives are issued.
E. Consignment is seized whenever compliance directives are not adhered to.
19. GPHA/Terminal/ICD issues a Delivery Allow and an electronic notification is sent to Import/Agent
20. GPHA/Terminal/ICD generates e-waybill, sends copy to accompany cargo and gated out at Exist Gate.

NOTES – Movement of Cargo to ICD:

. Shipping Lines prepares and submits ICL to GPHA for approval.
. Shipping Lines creates Cargo CMR on GICCs platform.
. Customs validate CMR after acceptance by ICD. In case supplementary ICL is required to be treated, the same process of submission and approval is followed as in the main.
. Import containers are loaded on ICD trucks from MPS/Terminal I en-route to ICD through Western Gate.
. Customs and GPHA Security at Western Gate confirms the status of containers being transferred on GICCs and validate same with trucks and driver ID.
. ICD receives containers into stack and upload status on GCNet platform.

Car Terminal:
. Ramp tallies and barcodes are generated from the quay with handheld devices.
. VCR generated electronically.
. e-TT generated electronically.
. Vehicles are scanned via barcode into SCTL terminal.
. Electronic manifest is downloaded from GICCs into SCTL system for clearance of vehicles.

By Gloria KYEREMEH, Accra

ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

[email protected]

An Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of A Senior Journalist with Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. He is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow (YALI) who studied at Clark Atlanta University on the Business and Entrepreneurship track. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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