Adopt Uniformity In Single Window Systems

The Chief Executive Officer of the West Blue Consulting, Madam Valentina Mintah, has advised members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that are implementing the single window systems to abide by international standards to enable them to operate effectively and efficiently in the sub-region.

According to her, the uniformity of the systems would allow customs authorities to share critical data on trade and other related activities in line with the harmonisation of customs operations in the ECOWAS sub-region.

Madam Mintah said this at the just ended African Ports Evolution West Africa Edition 2016 forum held in Accra.

She noted that after some months of the implementation of the trade facilitation system, it had reduced the cost of doing business at the Tema and Takoradi ports.

GNSW reduces cost

Since the introduction of the GNSW’s PAARS last year, traders are able to access Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) within 48 hours, Madam Mintah revealed.

In some cases, within an hour – that is 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 that the system had brought some efficiency at the ports, reduced time, reduced corruption and cost of doing business.

The Customs Division of GRA took over the processing of the CCRV from the destination companies in September last year. The CCRV replaced the destination inspection report also known as the Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR). In spite of the successes chalked up so far through the implementation of the PAARS, she said there was still more room for improvement.

Ghana ranked 171 in this year’s World Bank’s ‘Trading Across Borders Rankings’ report on the cost and time of administrating procedures and processes for importing and exporting.

Reducing these factors (time and cost) is exactly what the Ghana National Single Window project is designed to address, Madam Mintah noted.

Based on the experience of the Single Window implementations in other countries, West Blue estimated that the GNSW project would reduce the cost and time of international trade (import, export and transit) in Ghana by 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively over the next five years.

Economic benefits

This, Madam Mintah explained, would have a huge impact on the international competitiveness of Ghanaian business and all other things being equal, result in a strong growth in the country’s international trade performance.

It will also significantly increase the global ranking of Ghana in the World Bank’s ‘Trading Across Borders Report’ from the rank of 171 in 2016 to 121 by 2021. Similarly, the ranking within the Sub-Saharan African regions could increase from 36 to 16, all things being equal, she stated.

Madam Mintah added that another potential benefit of the GNSW was the likely positive impact on the country’s foreign direct investment prospects.

“Trade efficiency is a key determinant of investment decisions by international business and the positioning of Ghana as a trade-efficient and trade-friendly country will greatly enhance its attractiveness to such investors.”

Furthermore, she believes that the GNSW is expected to boost economic growth of the country, adding that the Single Window would enhance institutional and nation building, improved and effective collection of government revenues, simpler, faster processes for clearance and release, reduced costs of compliance, reduced corruption, reduction in bureaucratic processes, among others.

Later in a panel discussion which was chaired by Madam Mintah, the Branch and Transit Manager of GCNet, Jimmy Allotey, said: “We are glad that the Single Window system is being operationalised.”

He noted that to achieve optimal competition, players at the ports needed a purposefully built logistical infrastructure, operational efficiency, a synergistic and collaborative port community in the country.

For his part, a Chief Revenue Officer at Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the Tema Port, Peter Alu, added the implementation of the Ghana National Single Window project would end duplication of duties at the ports.

Novelty project

The novelty project, which aims among other things at reducing delays at the country’s ports, has been welcomed by the private sector, the political class and the international community.

The GNSW project was initiated on September 1, 2015 by the Government of Ghana to enhance the country’s trade and economic development and secure and increase government revenue.

The technical partner of the GNSW project, West Blue Consulting, an innovative business and IT consulting and technology firm was contracted by the Government of Ghana to run the five-year project which successfully implemented the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) in the first phase of the project.

The PAARS is a modernised system that has been developed by the Customs Division of GRA as part of the implementation of the GNSW project to enhance revenue mobilisation, improve border security and customs clearance, overcome duplication across regulatory agencies and promote trade facilitation.

Indeed, the Single Window concept was developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in 2005 as an effort to simplify, harmonise and standardise international trade procedures and associated information flows between trade and government and within government itself.

UNECE, through its UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), defined Single Window as “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once”.

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