Business News of Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Freight forwarders in the country have rejected claims that they are sabotaging the paperless goods clearing system recently introduced by government.
According to them, their earlier complaints of delay in the system was genuine, and not a ploy to sabotage the process.
“We clearly have challenges and to express these challenges that we have on the ground, I’m not sure it will be translated to mean not being comfortable with the system or trying to sabotage the system,” President of the Ghana Institute for Freight Forwarders, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, said on Eyewitness News on Tuesday.
Mr. Appiah made the remark in response to some disparaging comments made against them by the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia while speaking at the launch of the onboarding programme for National Service Personnel into the National Communications Authority on Tuesday, claimed that an initial assessment of the implementation of the paperless system had shown a revenue collection improvement of 56 percent.
According to him, revenue at the ports increased from GHc130 million in the first week of September 2016, to GHc213 million in the same period for 2017.
“The results are amazing. We just looked at data this morning – the first week of collections under the paperless system in September this year compared to last year the first week of collections in September 2016, and collections have gone up by 56 percent; 56 percent from around GHc130 million to GHc213 million in one week,” he added.
He also lambasted the freight forwarders for complaining over the few challenges they encountered trying to clear their good using the paperless system.
“On September 1, we launched the paperless [system], but of course not without attempts to actually derail the process, because it’s hurting a lot of people who were making free money and people who used to take two weeks to clear a container after one day of delay were protesting. Are you protesting the system or something else?”
But President of the Freight Forwarders Institute said “I am very sure that when the lines are drawn there will be a huge distinction between those so-called saboteurs and those who are expressing a certain anxiety or frustration as a result of the punks of implementation.”
“With regards to what the Vice President said, we were not even immediately looking at the statistics but giving what he has quoted, 56 percent jump in revenue we can immediately identify with that, but it doesn’t mean we do not have challenges with implementation on the ground,” he added.
Government began the implementation of the paperless clearing system on September 1, 2017, to speed up the process of clearing goods from two weeks to four hours, and ensure order at the port, whilst blocking loopholes.
But the aim to which the system was established experienced some hitches following which hundreds of angry Freight Forwarders thronged the Longroom of the Tema Port to protest over the delays in the system at the beginning.
Paperless system backlog cleared – GRA
In a related development, the Commissioner for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Isaac Crentsil, explained that his outfit has rectified challenges that impeded the smooth take off of the paperless clearing system.
He added that the backlog with the compliance unit has also been cleared.