Shippers and freight forwarders have described the Paperless Port System as an ongoing success story that needs to be fully implemented for the benefit of all stakeholders in the maritime industry and the country as a whole.
They contend even though the implementation of the Paperless Project still has some bottlenecks, it has so far improved their time and cost of clearance of goods at the ports.
The shippers made the revelation at a forum organised by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) Wednesday, 7th November, 2018 for all stakeholders in the shipping sector to review the one-year implementation of the Paperless Port System.
Deputy Minister of Transport, Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, who stood in for the Transport Minister encouraged shippers to exhibit integrity in their dealings with state regulatory and supervisory agencies at the port by not cutting corners and engaging in fraudulent activities.
He underscored the need for information sharing and collaboration among the various stakeholders for the Paperless System to be successful. He said Government was committed to supporting reforms at the ports to expedite trade facilitation with the aim of reducing the cost of doing business for traders.
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority , Ms Benonita Bismarck said as part of the Authority’s mandate to effectively and efficiently manage Ghana’s commercial shipping and also protect and promote the interests of shippers, it has partnered with key stakeholders such as the Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs Division (GRA) Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Ghana Community Network System (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting to undertake a nationwide shipper sensitisation on the Paperless Port System.
She said the Authority has also instituted periodic surveys of the Ports to monitor the clearance process and experience at first hand the implementation of the Paperless System. She expressed worry about the discretionary use of power by some security Operatives at the Ports which has the tendency to reintroduce arbitrariness in the clearance process.
On his part, the Director General of GPHA, Mr Michale Luguje said while there is the need to measure the level of success of the Paperless System, the various stakeholders must see it as a dynamic programme which must continuously be improved even at its peak of performance.
Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner, GRA-Customs Division, Mr Emmanuel Ohene, Sector Commander in Charge of Collections, Accra Division said the challenges that were associated with the implementation of the Paperless System from the onset were daunting with complaints from the trading community about fear of the unknown and insufficient supply of information.
He, however, noted that through the collaborative efforts of some major stakeholders who fine-tuned their electronic processes, made concessions and sacrifices, the implementation of the System has chalked several successes.
Representatives from the GPHA, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana (SOAAG), Ghana Community Network System (GCNet), West Blue Consulting, GRA-Customs Division, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, students from the Regional Maritime University, Borderless Alliance, Association of Customs House Agents, Ghana (ACHAG), Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG) and other companies attended the forum.