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Service delay, stumbling block to economic development

By Alfred Adam & Zam R. Samin Takoradi - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE Minister for Ports, Harbours and Railways, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, has stated that inefficiencies and delays in the provision of services and performance of duty, could gravely affect the oil industry in the country.

Addressing the 12th Annual General Meeting of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) on the theme, 'The Oil Industry and the Service Provider - The Role of the Freight Forwarder,' Professor Ameyaw Akumfi noted that over the years inefficiencies and delays in the provision of services had become stumbling blocks to the socio-economic development of the country.

Expressing worry over the situation, the Minister pointed out that when service providers were unskilled, shun their roles, and do not know their position in the country's development agenda, it becomes a major source of worry to government, and Ghana as a whole, most especially now that oil has been found on our soil and would attract investors into our country.

Professor Ameyaw Akumfi further pointed out that freight forwarding was very strategic to Ghana's oil find, therefore, it was imperative the latter position itself for the eminent oil boom.

According to the Minister, “It is within your domain to ensure that the movement of equipment to and from the ports and drilling sites go on smoothly.”

“This is because, the nation would more importantly rely on the institute's good services, for the exportation of surplus oil from the country.”

What is more, the country and the institute (GIFF) stood to benefit a lot in the emerging oil industry, in terms of more jobs and revenue accompanying the oil boom.

It was therefore important that the institute takes proactive measures in readiness for the emerging oil boom, and train its labour force in the Freight Forwarding Institute, in order to take roles effectively.”

Minister Akumfi reaffirmed the conviction of his Ministry, that the GIFF constituted an integral component of the logistics chain, without which it would be impossible to have a functioning system.

The Ministry, therefore, recognises and upholds the critical role and duties played by freight forwarders.

On his part, the Deputy Western Regional Minister, Mr. Kwasi Blay, noted that the emerging oil industry posed a big challenge to all sectors of the economy, and therefore reminded the GIFF to train its staff to sharpen their knowledge, to take advantage of the oil boom. The Minister expressed satisfaction over the cooperation that existes between members of the institute and the CEPS.

The Commissioner of Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), Mr. Emmanuel Doku, on his part, noted that it was clear that the success of the oil industry depended on effective and reliable information, which drives investment choices and capital inflows.

Therefore, there was the need for the GIFF to identify effective ways of coordinating the flow of vital logistics, and information to service the upcoming oil industry. “This is why the GIFF must re-position itself and develop the strategic edge to deliver just-in time logistics for the oil industry.”

According to the Commissioner, one great challenge staring in the face of GIFF was how to create a seamless supply chain that would meet the huge logistics needs of the upcoming oil industry, in terms of exports and imports. “In that line, thhe GIFF must explore how to use multi-modalism to ensure cost effectiveness in the delivery of vital goods and services for the oil industry.

“This is because it was undeniable fact that the efficient delivery of vital logistics would enhance the competitiveness of our oil industry, and thus promote the economic health of the country,” he noted.

Commissioner Doku noted that his outfit was determined to regularly review its operational environment, in order to ensure the adequacy and continued relevance of current customs procedures, processes and regimes, to efficiently deal with the requirements of the oil industry.

He urged the GIFF to place high premium on the training and re-training of its members to understand the dynamics of the oil industry, and related logistics requirement.

“It must also understand and explore the upstream and downstream linkages and the various activities that produce value in the form of products and services delivered to the industry and the consumer.”

Doku also charged GIFF to standardise its fees and other service charges, to eliminate any arbitrariness, and create a system that thrives on the principles of certainty, consistency and transparency.

It must also work together with CEPS to develop a comprehensive system of ethics and code of conduct that reflected the commitment and obligation of the two to carry out its mandate.

The development, issuance and acceptance of a comprehensive code of conduct, according to the Commissioner, would clearly set out the expected standards of behaviour, which would in the end be vital for the achievement of corporate integrity and transparent service delivery.

The President of the GIFF, Mr. Robert Kutin, underscored the need for members to adapt, change and contribute more to shaping our country's economic policies and structures.

He reminded members that Ghana's oil find presented opportunities and pitfalls, and to succeed as freight forwarders, they must change, adapt and become innovative and resourceful.

Should members fail to do this, “we may find ourselves pushed out of the market.”