The President of the Ghana Union Traders Association, Mr. George Ofori, has welcomed the pledge by the new Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Hannah Tetteh, to address the complex, unnecessary delays and high cost of clearing goods at the ports.
To this end, the Minister hinted at the possibility of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) resuming its core functions of classification and valuation of goods, if that would serve the best interest of the nation.
Ms Tetteh made the pledge, in response to a question at her recent vetting in Parliament on the cumbersome and frustrating procedures, which are compounded by the operations of destination inspection companies in the clearance of goods.
Speaking to the media in Accra, Mr. Ofori said the move by the Minister, if implemented, would create a business-friendly atmosphere at the ports for players in the import and export business, to save time and money in their transactions.
Mr. Ofori pointed out that the duplication of roles by the destination inspection companies, worked against the global trend of providing one-stop-shop facility by customs officials.
He said in line with its status of being the gateway to West Africa, Ghana should not hesitate to do the right thing, by eliminating those procedures which hindered smooth business.
Moreover, Ghana is committed to international conventions, which oblige the country to empower CEPS to streamline and simplify the complex processes involved in clearing goods at the ports.
Mr. Ofori said in the case of Ghana, CEPS now has a Valuation Complex at North Ridge in Accra, fully equipped with the latest Information Technology (IT) tools which would make it possible for traders, importers freight forwarders and custom brokers to clear their goods within two to three days, instead of the endless periods they spend now, as they are tossed from one company to another, and from different Ministries to another.
CEPS was expected to resume its classification and valuation functions from January 1, this year, to ease the burden on traders, importers, exporters and other stakeholders in the industry.
The much-awaited policy shift would help check corruption and other leakages at the ports, and enhance the position of CEPS as the major revenue agency for the state, especially at this time when the global economic downturn makes donor assistance very unreliable.