Government to partner investors to develop Ghana’s inland port
Vice President John Dramani Mahama, on Wednesday gave the assurance that government was ready to partner any investor to ensure speedy realisation of the Boankra Inland Port project to facilitate trade and economic activities.
The port, in the Ashanti Region, is expected to serve as an important infrastructure that would link the ports of Tema and Takoradi to the central parts of the country and landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
It is also expected to serve as a free port aimed at easing congestion at Ghana’s seaports thus facilitating the transit trade of the country’s land-locked neighbours.
Vice President Mahama gave the assurance in a speech read on his behalf by Transport Minister Mike Hammah, at the Fifth National Shippers’ Day in Accra.
The forum organised by Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), was under the theme: “Trade Facilitation: A Catalyst for Rapid Economic Growth.”
It was to highlight challenges confronting Ghanaian Shippers and to seek solutions to them, create a platform for the cross-fertilization of ideas towards improved trade facilitation and to bridge the gap between providers and users of shipping services.
Vice President Mahama said plans were afoot to re-develop the Takoradi Port to position it as a preferred harbour in the sub-region.
He noted that shippers’ import and export consignments created a chain of economic activities that resulted in direct and indirect employment for several individuals in the entire logistics chain.
“Through shippers’ efforts, Ghana’s cargo throughput has increased from 6.5 million metric tonnes in 1996 to 15 million metric tonnes in 2008, and indications are that throughput for 2010 could reach 16 million metric tonnes,” he said.
Vice President Mahama called for the implementation of mechanisms to address economic constraints posed by charges and measures introduced by service providers that added direct or indirect cost to doing business in the country.
He said his attention had been drawn to the conduct of some shippers who connived with freight forwarders, customs officials and other operators to evade customs duties and taxes through alteration and falsification of documents.
“These activities do not only deprive the nation of the much needed revenue for national development, but also have serious implications for national security and in the long run hinder trade facilitation as deterrent measures are put in place to curb these nefarious activities,” he said.
Vice President Mahama urged shippers to show keen interest in the clearance process of their cargoes and insist on genuine receipts for all services rendered.
Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, announced that the Ghana Community Network System (GCNet) had been authorised to deploy the valuation module of the Ghana Customs Management System which started from June 2010 to assist Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to validate valuation opinion provided by the Destination Inspection Companies.
“This has become necessary due to concerns being raised about revenue loss to government as a result of malpractices in the valuation of imports,” she said.
Ms Tetteh expressed the hope that the migration from manual import declaration to electronic import declaration when completed would reduce some of the delays associated with the clearing process.
She urged the clearing and forwarding agents as well as self-declarants to ensure they became familiarised with the electronic system so that when the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) port electronic data transfer system and the Ministries, Department and Agencies, whose activities impacted on the import system, became fully integrated with the GCNet system, shippers could reap the full benefit of the electronic system.
Ms Tetteh said the country’s economy thrived on the trading activities of Ghanaian merchants adding that any malfeasance within the operations of the trading system would undermine the economy.
“It is in light of this that CEPS has to adopt the World Customs Organisation’s Unique Consignment Reference System to facilitate legitimate international trade while at the same time strengthen effective audit based controls,” she said.
She was hopeful that the ‘binding together of data’ concerning international trade transaction from the initial order and consignment of goods by the supplier, to the movement of goods and the arrival at the border, through to the final delivery to the importer, would enhance data exchange between trade organisations.
She said this would also enable CEPS to match documents during post-event or audit processes.
Ms Tetteh appealed to shippers to eschew practices linked with fraudulent activities that led to huge revenue loss to the country.
Mr Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive Officer of GSA, disclosed that his outfit had completed the construction of an administrative block for the Boankra Inland Port project and had extended electricity, telecommunication and water facilities to the site.
He said the authority was in the process of establishing logistics platform in Takoradi, through a public private partnership, to service the oil and gas industry.
“The Authority would soon introduce in Ghana the Electronic Cargo Tracking Note, which is expected to track the movement of cargoes from origin to destination,” he said.