West Blue Brings Help Desk Closer to GUTA Members

Commissioning of GUTA e-zone centre

Commissioning of GUTA e-zone centre

Accra, August 3, 2017//-The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and its IT partner-West Blue Consulting on Thursday (today) commissioned another electronic zone (e-zone) facility at the premises of Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) headquarters in Accra.

This follows the launched of four other e-zone facilities at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Tema port, Customs Technical Services Bureau and Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA).

The newly e-zone facility or centre which is set up as part of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project would provide 24/7 customer services to GUTA members who are most importers as well as exporters  in the country.

The facility would also provide services including payments, self-service, and multimedia trade information to speed up business transactions at the Accra Business District where majority of GUTA members are plying their businesses.

With the establishment of the facility in the area, the problem of going importers to Tema port or customs headquarters to transact import business there would be a thing of the past, the President of GUTA, George Ofori said at the launch of the facility.

He described the setting up of the e-zone centre at their door-steps as a welcoming news to the importing community in the country as it would enable them to get unlimited access to get responses to their general enquiries and also have their technical problems solved immediately.

Mr Ofori therefore appealed to all members of GUTA to use the e-zone facility or centre transact their business, saying “the e-zone facility will reduce your transport cost, time and speed up your business”.

On his part, the Head, Customs Technical Services Bureau at the GRA, Julius Kantun stressed: “With the launch of GUTA e-zone, people who have enquiries need not come all the way to Customs headquarters, but can now walk in here conveniently and at anytime and have all their trading issues resolved”.

According to him, the innovative information technology drive currently being championed by West Blue and the GRA has made trade processes easier and faster for importers and exporters. This enable all stakeholders in the trade facilitation processes to work smarter and faster together.

Mr Kantun stated: “It is really a great pleasure that we all are enjoying the positive results of  Ghana National Single Window  since its inception in 2015”.

 

We have had series of key changes in the past few weeks relating to transfer of officers from the Customs Technical Services Bureau to other places to further enhance the revenue growth of the country, he said.

Mr Kantun added that, “we are currently training a new batch of about 100 officers to further enhance the mandate of delivering the Customs Classification and Valuation Report in 48 hours and in some compliant cases, just less than 48 hours”.

He used the occasion to assure of customs’ commitment to ensuring that trade processes is well simplified and also the revenue of the government is jerked up.

Mr Kantun noted that since of the e-zone centre also known help desk, “we have discovered that it has provided a platform for you (exporters and importers) to share your challenges and in some instances share your successes with us”.

This he emphasised has remodeled customs processes in making sure that they simplify the trade processes in the country.

“For us at the Customs Technical Services Bureau, we have been enhancing the help desk to allow easier access to the trading community and we have also enhanced the ticketing system to meet all necessary enquiries promptly”.

Mr Kantun therefore thanked the implementers of the  Ghana National Single Window and the executives of GUTA for partaking in this great initiative.

Presenting an overview of the GUTA e-zone, the General Secretary of GUTA,  Alpha Shaban noted: “The e-zone centre contains a wealthy of information for buyers and sellers. We at GUTA are committed and strive to deliver the best we can for our members”.

West Blue Consulting which Madam  Valentina Mintah headed is the technical partner of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project  which has been contracted by the Government of Ghana to run the five year project.

Initially, the company successfully developed and implemented the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) last year.

The PAARS, according to the senior officials is a modernized system that has been developed by the Customs Division of GRA as part of the implementation of the GNSW project to enhance revenue mobilization, improve border security and customs clearance, overcome duplication across regulatory agencies and promote trade facilitation.

Since the introduction of the GNSW’s PAARS last year, traders are able to access Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) within 48 hours.

In some cases, within an hour that is substantial improvement from the previous situation whereby it used to take traders more than a week or two weeks just to get their CCVR.

The system has brought some efficiency at the ports, reduced time, reduced corruption, and cost of doing business.

Another significant achievement the company chalked was the country’s historic performance on the recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing rankings.

Ghana had moved an impressive 13 places up on the Trading Across Borders in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. The report accredited the performance to the GNSW project initiated by the government.

The Doing Business 2017 report, titled ‘’Equal Opportunity for All’, showed that Ghana was placed at position 108 out of 190 countries surveyed in the Overall Ranking of Ease of Doing Business – an improvement from 111 in the previous report.

In the sub-Saharan Africa sub-region, Ghana ranked in the Top 10, coming 9th, out of the 47 countries ranked in the region. This is evidence that the Government of Ghana is pursuing active reforms to ensure the Ease of Doing Business in Ghana.

The Customs Division of GRA took over the processing of the CCRV from the destination companies in September 2015.

The CCRV replaced the destination inspection report also known as the Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR). In spite of the successes chalked so far through the implementation of the PAARS, West Blue is still working hard to facilitate trade and maximise revenue for the government.

Based on the experience of the Single Window implementations in other countries, West Blue estimated that the GNSW project would reduce the cost and time of international trade (import, export and transit) in Ghana by 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively over the next five years.

Instructively, the GNSW project was initiated on 1st September 2015 by the Government of Ghana to enhance the country’s trade and economic development and secure and increase government revenue.

It was officially launched in 1st December, 2015.

Indeed, the Single Window concept was developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in 2005 as an effort to simplify, harmonise and standardise international trade procedures and associated information flows between trade and government and within government itself.

UNECE, through its UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), defined Single Window as “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once”.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report

 

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