The new Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) is said to have raked in GHc 177.3 million in revenue at the Tema Port one week of going live.
This amount was generated from successful processing of 4,793 Bills of Entry (BoE) from custom house agents and freight forwarders.
It must be noted that this is not the total revenue generated at Tema Port last week.
This is because a large chunk of BoE for goods cleared last week had been processed through the systems of the outgone service providers and the revenues declared through that system.
Customs expects to complete processing of all BoE declared through the previous systems in the next two weeks.
It is at this point that the full revenue generated at Tema Port will reflect in ICUMS.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and its technical partner, Ghana Link Network Services Limited, deployed ICUMS for trade facilitation in Ghana.
On Monday, June 1, 2020, the day ICUMS fully took over at Tema Port, it processed 400 Bills of Entry (BOE).
This was achieved despite teething challenges, including some importers, freight forwarders and clearing agents having knowledge gap even after training.
Assistant Commissioner of Customs and the Sector Commander of Accra Collection, Emmanuel Ohene expressed gratitude to GRA officials, Ghana Link staff, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Meridian Ports Services (MPS), ICDs Shipping Lines, Customs House Agents, freight forwarders and the MMDAs for the commitment shown to see the ICUMS project go live at the Tema Port.
“Indeed, we are happy to see the declarants successfully create their Bills of Entry (BOE) since Monday, June 1, 2020, when the ICUMS went live.
“Even though there might be some few challenges, this is normal with new systems being deployed anywhere in the world. But I can assure you that we stand ready to deal with such issues in the trade facilitation value chain,” he said.
Mr Ohene, who is also the chairman of the implementation team of ICUMS, appealed to stakeholders and the trading public to abandon their reluctant attitude towards the change in the systems in order to fully appreciate the benefits of the ICUMS, which would achieve the government’s single window and one end-to-end customs management system goals.
He indicated that at Tema Port, most officers detailed to work on valuation of declarations filed through the ICUMS have been trained.
All stakeholders, including freight forwarders and importers, have also been trained, and training is still ongoing, adding that training is not an event, but a continuous process which they will continue to do for the freight forwarders and all other stakeholders even after full rollout.
Vice-chairman and technical committee head of the Tema branch of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Johnny Mante asked that the approach adopted by Ghana Link and GRA is using to address issues is speed-up.
He said even though did they not expect the system to be perfect overnight, but they were hopeful operators would continue to engage and train clearing house agents and importers and address their challenges promptly.
Takoradi Port and other entry points
ICUMS, which has been operational at the Takoradi Port since April 1, 2020, is said to have recorded some 4,481 BoE on the new clearance platform.
The BoE are said to have been recorded between rollout dates of April 1 and June 5, 2020 on ICUMS platform.
The Takoradi Port, which handles about 35 per cent of the country’s seaborne traffic, is Ghana’s second-biggest port.
Below is a table depicting total number of BOE done at some selected customs stations as at June 5, 2020, 14:24 hours GMT.
Clearing procedures at Tema Port
To enhance clearing process at the Port of Tema, GRA/Ghana Link, the lead project managers of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), has outlined proposals for the release of cargo for the Bills of Entry processed in the old system, the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS).
The proposal, which is in two parts, makes provisions for Meridian Port Services (MPS) and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), and all other terminals, including Inland Container Depots (ICDs).
This has been put on pull-ups, banners and handouts at all the points mentioned above. Also, the Ghana Link team has stationed their officials to help agents and all other stakeholders who have challenges in using the new system, the ICUMS.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), its technical partner – Ghana Link Network Services Limited, and other stakeholders have been working round the clock to solve issues raised by freight forwarders and clearing house agents when the new Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) was deployed at the country’s biggest port.
With the ICUMS going live, some clearing agents were stranded due to old vendors switching off the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS), even though they had not handed over data in their system to the Customs Division of GRA to enable them continue clearing process of declaration they had.
A month before the ICUMS took over the clearing processes at the Port of Tema, two main simulation exercises were conducted, both virtual and live on the ground, which included the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Meridian Port Services (MPS) Limited, Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), shipping lines, National Security, Energy Commission, Food and Drugs Authority, Bank of Ghana (BoG), Ghana Standard Authority, Free Zones Authority and all other stakeholders at the Port of Tema. This was to have the ICUMS tested in its ability to aid the free flow of import/export/transit declarations.
This showed that the system was robust and ready to go live before Monday, June 1, 2020 when the technical managers – Ghana Link and GRA – were ready to provide the country and all stakeholders within the best trade facilitation tool with an end-to-end single-window solution which was going to see seamless process in the clearing of goods at the ports.
Also coming at a lesser cost to the importer and clearing agents, who are now burdened and maybe cash-trapped as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, the ICUMS is one of the best end-to-end solutions as COVID-19 has changed the way things are done around the world, reducing face-to-face human interaction.
Benefits of ICUMS
It is a comprehensive clearance system that does not only work to facilitate trade but ensure that every pesewa is collected and compliant and risk-free passengers are given special processing. The system also works to ensure national security and safety.
This also enables the sharing of timely information among regulatory agencies, stakeholders (such as those mandated by the government to perform special tasks), and customs. Regulatory information sharing goes beyond the issuance of permits, but information for statistical analysis and decision making.
Through the clearance management system, all customs business will be conducted in a paperless environment.
It is a modern and world-class technology acknowledged by international bodies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Customs Organisation (WCO), The World Bank, and World Economic Forum (WEF), which is used to facilitate trade, ensure supply chain security and increase revenue.
When ICUMS is fully deployed, export will take 1.5 minutes and import 1.5 hours as this is the current standard in Korea and all other places the system is operating.