By Uche Usim
In line with its quest to facilitate legitimate trade, West Blue Consulting, operator of Ghana’s National Single Window Project and Consultant to the Nigeria Customs Service, has introduced online payment system which will expedite cargo clearance and lower operations cost.
The online payment solution for cross-border trade, the first of its kind in the sub region, was successfully launched last week. It offers shippers (importers/exporters) easy and flexible payment options – card payment (Visa and MasterCard), mobile money powered by telecoms operators and the various online payment platforms of commercial banks.
The new system comes with multiple advantages such as secured transactions, increased transparency, financial inclusion; it frustrates the use of cloned or forged trade documents. The system has rendered obsolete paper invoices and bank confirmations with the attendant delay and inconvenience to members of the trading community.
Perhaps what is very significant is that the new addition to the single window project will make it possible for port users to clear and take delivery of their consignments within 24hours.
Impressed with the noticeable improvement in trade processing at the port, the Director General of Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA), Mr. Richard Anamoo, has commended West Blue Consulting for deploying innovative IT solutions to modernize Ghana’s cross border trade.
The Director General made the remarks while on a one-day working visit to the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB), a unit under the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), to familiarize himself with the operations of the Bureau and implementation of the country’s Pre-arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) developed by West Blue Consulting.
He expressed his delight with the quality of the technical support provided by West Blue Consulting to the Revenue Authority via Ghana Customs (CEPS), especially in the implementation of the Ghana National Single Window project.
Anamoo said the IT solutions introduced by West Blue Consulting on behalf of the Ghana Revenue Authority have impacted positively on the performance of the GPHA, including helping to shore up revenue for the government.
In his remarks, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr. George Blankson, explained that the Ghana Single Window system has made it possible for Ghanaian importers and exporters to electronically lodge their documents, including customs declarations, certificates of origin, invoices at a single location to be accessed by all regulatory and trade agencies, instead of they sending copies of the same documents to different agencies.
The system has to a large extent help to reduce the process time for trade documents as well as minimize human contacts which breed corruption and undue delays, he stressed.
The Ghana National Single Window system provides the platform for an integrated clearance process to minimize the human factor as much as possible and, to a large extent help to reduce the processing time for trade documents.
West Blue Consulting developed the PAARS for Ghana Customs. It was flagged off on 1 September 2015, and its implementation is to compliment the country’s single window environment. PAARS has already significantly reduced the time and cost of doing cross border trade in Ghana. Previously it takes an average of 2 weeks for trade documents to be processed; the PAARS implementation has cut processing time for complaint cases to 2 days and in some cases 2 hours.
African countries have been admonished to embrace the single window concept so as to put an end to excessive bureaucracy, which has been described as the most severe constraint to cross border trade in the continent.
With the GNSW system, Ghana’s goal is to enhance her trade competitiveness by 50 percent within the next five years. The system will save Ghanaian tax payers no less than $200million annually.