Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Benonita Bismarck, has called for strong collaboration among the relevant actors in the shipping value chain to facilitate the seamless implementation of the paperless ports regime.
According to her, the bits and pieces of challenges that accompanied the shift from the manual system of goods clearance at the Tema and Takoradi Ports were bound to happen with any new system and would require constant engagement among the shipping community to be addressed.
“The paperless system has come to stay because there is the political will; the initial challenges with the system were bound to come and the systems will be fine-tuned as it goes on.
The problems don’t only come with Customs but the entire government of things, hence the need for sustained interactions among institutions — Customs, GCNet, WestBlue, GPHA and SOAAG — to ensure that all parties along the shipping value chain are better served,” she told journalists at a review of the paperless clearance process in Accra.
Buttressing the concerns of the GSA boss was the Chairman of the Greater Accra Regional Shipper Committee, Nana Barima Ofori Ameyaw I, who advocated the need for information flow between the operators and users of the paperless system.
He emphasised that the paperless system, if well explained to stakeholders, will enable government to maximise revenue and be forced to reduce taxes and tariffs at the ports.
“The flow of information is necessary, for stakeholders to understand the system and to clear the doubts and confusion that have come with the programme.
It has come to replace the bureaucratic way of goods clearance; aside reducing the cost of doing business, taxes and tariffs will be reduced if the government is able to enhance revenue mobilisation with the introduction of this system.”
The one-day review exercise provided the platform for importers and exporters to share their experiences with the paperless system barely a month into its implementation and for service providers to detail identifiable bottlenecks and how they intend to address them.
The GSA boss indicated that her outfit, which serves the interest of shippers, is in discussions with relevant actors within the shipping value chain to ensure that the shipping community is better served in the wake of paperless transactions at the ports.
In this regard, she noted, the GSA has engaged the Ship-owners and Agents Association of Ghana (SOAAG) to see how the latter could extend demurrage free days for shippers whose consignments were locked at the port through no fault of theirs in the wake of the paperless system.
“We have been able to engage SOAAG which has agreed to consider demurrage on case by case basis while the GPHA is already giving concessions. These are ways that we can ensure that all parties in the shipping community are better served.”
Source: B&FT Online