Speaking at the opening session of the Sixth International Single-Window Conference and Exhibition in Accra, Dr Bawumia said all stakeholders, including compliance authorities, importers and logistics operators stood to benefit immensely from an effective single-window platform.
“For compliance authorities the world over, a single-window platform ensures an efficient and productive use of resources, enhances collection of fees, duties, and penalties, ensures enhanced risk analysis, reduces corruption, and ensures more comprehensive, streamlined and an automated compliance process,” he said.
“For importers, it reduces cost through minimal clerical effort,facilitates faster goods clearance, fosters predictability and reliability in consignment clearance, and reduces time-consuming face-to-face interactions.
“Logistics operators also benefit from faster movement of goods, reliable information on timing of goods movement, more productive and flexible use of human resources, and better end-to-end operations,” he said.
Dr Bawumia said government’s goal was to build the most business friendly economy in Africa through fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability to provide a stable and predictable environment for businesses to invest and to grow.
“Recent economic and financial data show that these interventions are yielding the desired results and we will continue in that direction,” he said.
Dr Bawumia said government was also embarking on reforms aimed at improving the business environment through various initiatives including the implementation of the Paperless Port Project not only to remove the human element and help reduce revenue leakages but, more importantly, ensuring faster turnaround in customs processing and clearance of goods at the ports.
“I am happy to report that the introduction of the paperless port programme in September, after we announced it in May, has been achieved without spending a pesewa. It was achieved through collaborations with the relevant stakeholders,” he added.
Vice-President Bawumia said to further facilitate trade, Ghana had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Government under the new US Trade Africa initiative to expand bilateral trade and investment cooperation in four broad areas.
The areas are the implementation of Category ‘C’ measures of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement; setting up of the Ghana International Trade Commission; Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT); and Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) measures. He said this year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry was upgrading some Category ‘B’ and ‘C’ measures to meet the WTO Trade Facilitation
Agreement requirements and deal with issues relating to TBT and SPS measures to improve the ease of doing business.
Dr Bawumia acknowledged the pioneering role played by the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) in the provision of Single-Window and e-Solutions services for trade facilitation and revenue mobilisation in the country.
Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, the Deputy Minister of Trade, said a Single-Window was feasible if attention was paid to critical factors in its implementation such as the political will, the legal framework, technical issues, the business model and stakeholder coordination.
He said it also called for a strong partnership between the public and private sectors to guarantee ownership, security and efficient delivery.
“The successful implementation of the single-window system on the Continent, to a large extent, depends on how well governments meet the needs of the private sector.”
He said there was the need for a concerned drive to engage the private sector in the entire reform process to ensure it did not become a top-down political exercise.
In his welcoming address, Dr Nortey Omaboe, the Executive Chairman of GCNet, said the conference was being held at a time when all stakeholders in the industry in Ghana were making frantic efforts to promoting trade facilitation through port efficiency, enhancement of revenue and ensuring expeditious clearance of goods by deepening electronic processes.
The three-day conference is being organised by the African Alliance for Electronic Commerce (AACE), in partnership with GCNet, Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
It is being attended by over 500 participants including about 200 delegates from several countries in Africa, Europe, America, Asia and Middle East are expected to take part in the conference on the theme: “Trade Facilitation Agreement and e-Commerce Development: The Role of Single Window as a Catalyst.”
The objectives of the conference include raising awareness on the implementation of the Single-Window Concept at the global level, its contribution to improvement in company competitiveness and the business climate.