21.03.2004 Feature Article

Rejoinder: CEPS Improves Revenue Collection With Introduction of GCNet

Rejoinder: CEPS Improves Revenue Collection With Introduction of GCNet
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Who hates simplified clearance of goods from the port? Who will want to wait hours, days and perhaps weeks and tolerate 'nonsense' from wayside clearance officers, corrupt customs officials etc?

This is the second article I have read from CEPS on the GCNet. I hope it is not brag or a nine-day wonder.

'Once they introduce these computer clearance systems, we can't see the clients, our 'small small monies' will cease, burden begins' these are the remarks of a CEPS official a year ago.

He continued, 'hmm! This computer will break down sooner or later'.

These are the fears I am having now. That sooner or later, these computerized clearing system will cease to function temporarily or permanently either by a deliberate attack or otherwise.

This reminds me of a British monarch who once said; 'there is going to be a free and fair elections but make sure my nephew wins'

In the words of Mr. Darko, the time frame for clearance has been reduced from 3 days to 4 hours. We pray that this will be the case for at least 90% of the cases. We hope Mr. Darko will encourage the opening of more GCNet outlets rather than the only one I found at the Tema port. (Opposite the longroom)

We hope with time, GCNet will be available on the Internet to the general public. Such a move will drastically reduce or remove corrupt officials, clearing agents and delays. At least the client is aware of the expected duty to pay, restrictions, status etc.

A personal account: Last July I cleared a Nissan Urvan aged 1988 from the port. The GCNet gentleman keyed in all the details correctly. A response from the CEPS accepted the input and provided instructions for payment. However the GCNet gentleman became suspicious about the amount quoted citing that CEPS had made a mistake. The mistake was that, the GCNet computer had failed to calculate an extra penalty for the over aged vehicle. Something called re-entry was performed, no new info provided. A new and higher Duty fee was issued. I was asked to pay for the costs of re-entry.

Despite all protest to this new fee, I lost because I had little time left for my stay in Ghana. This is an issue I will relentlessly not allow to die. I will follow-up during my upcoming visit.

Whether it was corruption on the side of the GCNet agent or total negligence on the part of the CEPS leaves more room for questions.

CEPS should be more OPEN, provide more education and information on its working procedures such as procedures for clearing goods, calculation of excise, duties etc., appeal procedures etc.

Many importers living outside will appreciate to logon to such sites to read updates, calculate the duties and make complaints.

CEPS must process complaints very quickly and efficiently. Its sad to wait for many hours just because an officer assigned to inspect your vehicle is not available. The saddest part is when there should be re-inspection or approval for re-entry; you must get the same officer who initiated the process. With all these computers & GCNet, officers must be able to access files of clients and work on them. No need to wait for a particular officer. No need to use seatbelts in determining age of vehicles rather than the chassis nr.

Once such information is very available to the public, corruption among others will be eliminated if not reduced to the very minimum.

Last month I cleared a car from the Amsterdam harbour originating from US. It took me only 10 minutes to complete the whole process. All what I needed to do was to sign for ownership and make payment at the customs office. (In Ghana it is only through the banks)

Inspection etc. had been done without my presence and there was no need to contract a clearing agent. That was an option!

Many Ghanaians were happy when it the CEPS and GPHA decided to open during the weekends. Sadly the banks were closed. This means business could be completed during the weekend. For better service to it clients, CEPS must negotiate with the banks at its premises to operate during the weekends and also for longer hours during business days.

GCNet, akwaaba! Nana Osei Sankofa Television Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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