The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) have called for the streamlining of clearance procedure of goods at the ports in order to stop corruption and to step up revenue generation.
At a press conference in Tema on Wednesday the GIFF expressed concern about unnecessary delays, complications, cost of importing and processing goods through the ports.
Mr Stanley R. K. Ahorlu, Executive Secretary of the GIFF, appealed to the government to allow the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) take over its core functions of classification and valuation of imported goods.
He described as duplication of functions for the Destination Inspection Companies (DIC) to be in charge of classification and valuation of goods, while CEPS officials offer assistance in its administration.
He explained that CEPS, which was previously in charge of the valuation of goods was stopped, with the reason that it lacked the capacity to carry out the job, but its officials were seconded to the DIC to offer assistance.
According to Mr Ahorlu, in the maritime industry all over the world, CEPS normally had responsibility over such function, and it was for this reason that a new office facility was built for the CEPS in Tema.
It therefore came as a surprise to the GIFF that the eight year contract of the DIC that ended in 2008 was hurriedly renewed in the last days of the previous government, “even without appraisal of their performance, consultation with CEPS, ship-owners, freight forwarders and other related agencies”, Mr Ahorlu said.
Mr Ahorlu, who is also GIFF's legal advisor, indicated that the DIC's operation from Accra, compounds the problems of maritime related agencies as they have to travel all the way to transact business and this adds to the cost.
“Inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the classification and valuation of goods by the DICs have created the opportunity for the solicitation of lower values with the effect that Final Classification and Valuation Reports (FCVR) were less relied upon by CEPS as it worsens the effect of duplication of functions in terms of cost and delays”.
The Executive Secretary expressed worry that the sector was dominated by foreign ship owners and their agents “who are left to operate unregulated” to the disadvantage of the local participation.
“It is the firm belief of GIFF that port services such as stevedoring, freight forwarding and ship agency should be reserved exclusively to indigenous Ghanaian individuals,” Mr Ahorlu declared.