President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has underscored the need for Ghana to protect its two seaports in order to improve trade for economic growth.
Consequently, he said, the government had introduced several reforms to improve efficiency and address the many corrupt practices associated with doing business at the ports.
“Among others, we have introduced the paperless clearance system at the ports so goods could be cleared between one and three days,” President Akufo-Addo made the commendation during his third State of the Nation Address delivered at the Parliament House in Accra on February 21.
He said the country’s ports remained important national assets and Ghanaians must manage it to help improve trade.
President Akufo-Addo gave an assurance to Ghanaians that his administration had set a goal of making the ports of Ghana the most competitive in West Africa.
"In this regard, some further reforms would soon be announced by government to enhance the competitive position of Ghana’s ports and impact on the cost of living in our country," he said.
Paperless port clearance
Doing business at the country’s seaports in the past was very daunting because of the bureaucracy associated with the handling of documents on imports in particular.
That was also one of the reasons why Ghana’s ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index, as per a World Bank report, had remained consistently low.
Aside that, doing business at the ports some years ago was saddled with many corrupt practices because in the importer’s quest to break through the bureaucracy, the temptation to pay bribe and cut corners through various means was always high.
It was against this that the government in September 2017, as part of its desire to reduce the turnaround time at the ports, corruption and the bureaucracy at the ports, made a commitment to make all operations there paperless.
Since its inception, the initiative has yielded positive results because the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has improved on its revenue target for the past one year.
Addressing the 39th Council and Conference of the Port Managers of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) in August this year, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, underlined some of the gains made so far with the introduction of the paperless clearance system.
He maintained that the implementation of the National Single Window, coupled with the paperless port initiative, was gradually yielding results to the admiration of importers and stakeholders.
Analysis of the Monthly Import Performance of the customs between 2015 and mid-year 2018 showed that the amount of revenue realised from imports had been increasing year-on-year.
The growth in revenue realised from imports over the period, he said, could largely be attributed to the strengthening of the Single Window System in 2015, when WestBlue Consulting was brought on-board to complement the efforts of GCNet, and the recent implementation of the paperless initiative.