Freight forwarders worried about delays in clearing goods at the ports due to challenges in accessing the new Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) have called on President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to intervene to save the country the loss of vital revenue for national development.
They said the delays which had also resulted in mounting rent and demurrage charges to importers could lead to congestion at the ports.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) Edward Akrong, said though importers were ready to pay duty they had not been able to do so due to the recurring challenges.
He said ICUMS deployed for well over three months on the land frontiers, over 60 days at Takoradi and over a week in Tema and the Kotoka International Airport, the system had not been fully integrated with other players in the chain such as terminals, shipping lines ground handlers and some courier stations making such players resort to manual processes of releases.
Mr Akrong said freight forwards still had challenges with imputing importer tax identification number, locking up of declarations in the system which “takes weeks with no benchmark for redress.”
He noted that the situation was eroding gains made by the paperless port policy initiated by the Vice President.
“Solutions have generally been on a piecemeal approach with declarants reaching technical teams at the command centre for solutions,” he said.
He said the system’s calculator was fraught with errors citing wrong application of exchange rate and wrong application of taxes as examples.
Mr Akrong noted that training of their personnel was poorly managed leading to fatigue among declarants adding that follow up trainings were still being organised.
He added that the ICUMS log in architecture made it impossible for business administrators to have oversight control over their assigns leading to accountability issues.
Mr Akrong said GIFF was doing its best to restrain its members and importers who were very anxious and expectant that Ghana Revenue Authority and the system operators would do their best to streamline the system for business to resume fully.
FROM GODFRED BLAY GIBBAH, TEMA