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Balance revenue collection with trade facilitation – Shippers’ Authority

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), Dr Kofi Mbiah, has called on the government to create an avenue that would balance revenue mobilisation at the ports with trade facilitation in the country.

He told the Daily Graphic in an interview that trade was the driving force for socioeconomic development “and every effort should be made to ensure that trade facilitation does not suffer at the expense of revenue mobilisation or vice-versa.”

He was speaking to the paper on the way forward for shipping in the country and how Ghana can be positioned to become the hub for maritime activities in the sub-region and the continent as a whole.

According to Dr Mbiah, enabling trade facilitation would “give a great deal of impetus to efficiency and competitiveness which will drive increased volumes of traffic from the sub–region through our ports and thus lead to increased revenue.”

He also lauded government’s efforts at strengthening what he referred to as “internal tax collection mechanisms” as against the collection of a sizeable amount of government revenue through import duties.

To him, efforts in that direction should be strengthened with a long term view of reducing the amount of government revenue collected through import duties.

He acknowledged that even though the process would be a long one, commitment to the process was key.

The GSA CEO mentioned the need to fully automate operations and reduce manual processing of documentation at the ports as one of the measures that should be adopted to help lessen the time and frustrations that traders normally go through before their goods are cleared for export (out of), or import (into) the country.

He said although there has been significant improvement in technological penetration in the processing of documents, there would be the need to tighten the loose ends to make the entire process of automation meaningful.

“When we do these, then our ports will become attractive to importers and exporters in the sub-region and that in itself will bring in more revenue,” Dr Mbiah said .

While acknowledging the contributions of the Ghana Community Network (GCNet) system in cargo clearance from the ports, Dr Mbiah said “we still have traders chasing customs officers and other port officials with papers every now and then for a stamp or signature to complete a process.”

“But that is not good for the system; it contributes to unnecessary congestion at the ports and slows work both for shippers and port authorities alike and we must work to stop that,” he added.

He also called upon shippers to provide genuine invoices and be above board in their dealings with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

He thus called upon shippers to use reputable clearing and forwarding agents when clearing their goods from the ports and to contact the authority for information before embarking on the business of import and export.

Source: Daily Graphic

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