Integrate revenue collection systems: Parliament tells West Blue and GCNet

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance has called for the integration of systems between West Blue Consulting and Ghana Community Network (GCNet) at the ports to ensure effective revenue mobilisation.

The members of the committee made the call when they paid a working visit on the management and staff of the West Blue Consulting in Accra.

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

The PAARS is a modernized system that has been developed by the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (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 Chairman of the Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah who was not enthused about the current turf-war between the two entities, advised them to work together to increase revenue and reduce time and cost of doing business at the country’s ports.

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 benefits of the country”.

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 in electronic”.

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

Revenue collection

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

“So, it is a good visit. We have learnt about their operations. I thinking 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”, Dr Assibey-Yeboah who is also the MP for New Juaben South in the Eastern Region acknowledged.

He explained that the next step for the committee was to meet senior officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to hear what they will say concerning the activities of the two entities.

The Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, assured that the committee would be objective and do what is best for the country.

Earlier, presenting an update and achievements of the GNSW, the Chief Executive Officer of West Blue Consulting, Madam Mintah said despite the Customs Division of 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.

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 a substantial improvement from the previous situation whereby 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 the system has brought some efficiency at the ports, reduced time, reduced corruption, and cost of doing business.

Ease of doing business

Another significant achievement Madam Mintah mentioned was the country’s historic performance on the recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing rankings.

Ghana had moved an impressive 13 places up on the Trading Across Borders in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. The report accredited 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 the sub-Saharan Africa sub-region, Ghana 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.

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).

In spite of the successes chalked so far through the implementation of the PAARS, she said there was still more room for improvement.