Parliament calls for collaboration between West Blue and GCNet

The Parliamentary Select Committee of Parliament on Finance has called for collaboration between West Blue Consulting and Ghana Community Network (GCNet) to help boost revenue generation for development.

The members of the committee, who paid a working visit to the offices of West Blue Consulting in Accra, said partnership between the two institutions would enable them to play their respective roles to the benefit of the country. The working visit was to enable the committee members to learn at first hand the operations of West Blue Consulting, who are the technical partners of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project.

The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, said any division between the two entities could mar the country’s quest to increase revenue, reduce time and cost of doing business at the country’s entry points and advised they worked together for the good of the country.

“I want to see West Blue and GCNet working together, for them to be integrating their networks and operations for the benefit of the country,” he said, and added that there was the need to integrate their systems to ensure that the country would truly operationalise the Single Window to facilitate trade.

Dr Assibey-Yeboah said the visit had provided them with the opportunity to learn about West Blue operations and the positive impact the developments were having on the country’s revenue generation.

“I think they are doing something good but I want to see the complementary effort of GCNet and West Blue working together, that is all that we are interested in. Once revenues are increasing we are fine,” he said.

He said the committee would next meet senior officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ministry of Finance to be able to make an informed decision and a definitive statement as to the way forward on the activities of the two institutions.

The purpose of the visit was to help them keep abreast of the operations of the company after its successful implementation of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) and other key components of the project.

He stated: “Both GCNet and West Blue are complementary. What I want to see is for them to be working together, for them to be integrating their networks and operations for the benefit of the country”.

Turf war

Dr Assibey-Yeboah noted, “Both of them have contracts with the government. They are not going away. GCNet is here until 2018 or so. West Blue will also be here until 2020. So, they are here. Rather they have to integrate their systems so that we can really operationalise this Single Window thing, less paper and everything will be electronic.”

The Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, gave an assurance that the committee would be objective and take a decision that would be best for the country.

The visit, which also formed part of a fact-finding mission provided the members of the committee with the chance to learn the activities of West Blue, the technical partners of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project.

Three weeks ago, the members of the committee paid a similar working visit to GCNet to find what they are doing regarding revenue collection.

Revenue target

Earlier, presenting an update and achievements of the GNSW, the Chief Executive Officer of West Blue Consulting, Madam Valentina Mintah, said even though the Customs Division of the GRA could not meet its revenue target in the first year of the GNSW project implementation last year, it had improved revenue generation.

Trade facilitation

Ms Mintah said the systems of all stakeholders involved in trade facilitation must be integrated to ensure the discovery of anomalies in the chain and to be able to proffer solutions to block the revenue leakages.   

She 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, she revealed.

“In some cases, within an hour; 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,” the CEO stated.

Madam Mintah was quick to add that the system had brought some efficiency at the ports, reduced time, reduced corruption, and cost of doing business.