Importers want GSA to cancel new system

Business News of Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Source: Graphic Online

Dr Kofi Mbiah IMO

Importers are calling on the Ghana Shippers’ Authority(GSA) to cancel the implementation of the Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI) expected to take off from March 1, 2015.

According to them, the implementation of the system would lead to a duplication of the work of the inspection agencies at the port which would subsequently increase the cost of doing business in the country, and make them uncompetitive.

The Corporate Affairs Director of the Finatrade Group of Companies, Mr John Awuni, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in Accra that “the business community is totally surprised at the GSA’s decision to implement this law without involving the stakeholder who are the business community.”

Mr Awuni, who is also a member of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA), indicated that it was unwise and unnecessary for a country, whose cost of doing business had risen because of consistent power outages which had resulted in the retrenchment of over 50 per cent of the workforce to implement such a law.

“The Ministry of Trade and Industry, upon realising the duplication and confusion at the port, would on Thursday, February 26, inaugurate a committee to which I am a member to curtail the over 14 inspection agencies at the port to at least 10, with the objective of enhancing bureaucracy at the port,” he said.

He noted that even though the business community was in a meeting with the GSA over the ASHI, the Ministry of Trade and Industry must, as a matter of urgency, prevent its implementation.

He, therefore, described the scenario as a misunderstanding and confusion between the ministry which is setting up a committee to reduce the number of inspection agencies at the port and the GSA.

The GSA, however, disagrees and explained that the ASHI would assist in minimising the cost of clearing cargo at the ports by way of reducing the incidence of payments of high rent and demurrage charges.

The Head of Public Relations at GSA, Mr Fred Asiedu-Dartey, said the business community and the stakeholders in the maritime industry had been involved in all the negotiations to implement the ASHI.

“ASHI is to assist in minimising the cost of clearing cargo at the ports by way of reducing the incidence of payments of high rent and demurrage charges,” he said.

According to him studies conducted by the authority in 2013 indicated that shippers paid demurrage of about US$75 million and rent of about Gh¢30 million. These costs resulted from delays in clearing cargo at the ports.

He noted that the ASHI would enforce the provision of commercial invoices and other relevant shipment information far in advance of ship arrival to allow for adequate risk management processes by Customs and other relevant agencies, thereby ensuring Government revenue in duties and taxes are met.

“The ASHI will enable shippers to get advance and real time information about their shipments to facilitate their pre-clearance processes in advance. This would invariably expedite the cargo clearing process at the port and reduce the cost of doing business in the country,” he added.

He said the implementation of the ASHI would increase security by providing information on the movement of the cargo throughout the international trade environment.

He noted that Antaser BVA Afrique and its international agency network was the sole representative in charge of the issuance and validation of the ASHI.

According to him, the authority collaborated with private and public organisations in the maritime industry through consistent negotiations to pursue its primary objective of protecting the interests of shippers in the country.

In 2012, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority Regulations L.I.2190 was passed to give vent to the Authority’s Establishment Law, NRCD254.

“As part of the provisions in the Regulations, the Authority is mandated to provide relevant shipment information through the ASHI system,” he said. How does the ASHI work

He said the shipper or forwarder would first register on a web portal and all relevant business information would have to be scanned and attached before submission of the application form through the web portal.

The ASHI is an electronic platform by which pre-arrival cargo information is received in advance for planning and for the commencement of the pre-clearance process.

To assist shippers save cost and speed up clearing at the ports, the Authority has initiated the process of deploying the ASHI system which will provide shippers and relevant government agencies with advance information on their shipments.