Mr Lipton Baffour Nsoah, Head of Operations, Ghana Link Network Services says the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) being used at the country’s ports has made significant increase in the level of revenue mobilisation since June, 2020.
Speaking at a day’s training workshop for the members of the Port Journalists Network (PJN) in Accra last Friday, he said all customs penalties, service charges, taxes and duties were now generated with a tax bill number which was paid directly into Customs account.
This, Nsoah said had reduced leakage at the country’s ports.
ICUMS under the UNIPASS-Ghana project, is engaged by the government to engage a single service provider to develop and implement an end-to-end automated customs operational and management system.
Ghana Link Network Service Limited, is a Ghanaian owned company which was established in 2001, and initially went into the business of Destination Inspection from 2003 to 2015.
In September 2015, Ghana Link was offered the contract, to run External Price Verification Programme for GRA-Customs. In 2018, it was again offered the contract to establish a Single System to aid the generation of revenue in Ghana.
The customs division of the GRA, Other Government Agencies (OGAs) and relevant private stakeholders involved in cross border trade are the primary users of the system.
One other initiative that had impacted positively on revenue generation he said was proper bond management system for suspense regimes.
He said procedures that required insurance bond or bank guarantees were captured in ICUMS to ensure revenues were secured for any suspended taxes on any cargo.
He said relevant documents approved by appropriate authority for exemptions were uploaded in ICUMS for all relevant stakeholders to view.
On challenges Mr Nsoah said few customs sites have still not been hooked onto ICUMS but was very optimistic that it would be done.
One other challenge he cited was declarants using the wrong customs procedures in the ICUMS.
He however, stated that the ICUMS team was constantly training customs officers and external users to equip them with adequate system knowledge to enhance revenue generation.
Ekow Hayford, Head of E-Tracking Division of Ghana Link Network Service Limited, Ekow Hayford, said the built-in electronic tracking system of ICUMS, ensured the security of cargo transport from the port to its final destination.
The tracking system, he noted monitored the movement of all cargoes coming in and going out of the country, thereby making sure that the cargoes were safe and not tempered with.
The ICUMS’ electronic tracking system is to monitor that cargos or goods after being released from the customs regimes, get to to their intended destinations through the deployment and use of a GPS based locking software fixed on the moving cargo.
“We owe our successes first to our here at Ghana Link with our technical partners CUPIA of Korea, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the freight forwarding community,” he said.
Mr Hayford, said the device was built in such a way that it gives an alert on any deviation made on the specific route and informs or brings to the attention of the monitoring station, any attempt to take the tagged device off the cargo.
Mr Clyde Adjei, Deputy Managing Director, Ghana Link Network Services in his welcome address said although the introduction of ICUMS attracted mixed reactions from some stakeholders it had been accepted as the best for the country.
Team Lead of PJN, Mr Elvis Darko, noted that the economy revolves round trade which is anchored on ports and maritime operations.
He noted that the ports remain the single largest revenue generator for the country and, therefore, deserves all the needed attention.
To buttress his point, he said that of the GH₵63 billion total revenue for 2020, GRA collected GH₵45 billion.
He explained that Customs alone collected GH₵12 billion of the total revenue of GH₵63 billion in 2020.
Mr Darko stressed the need for the media to make issues of the ports and maritime sectors topical to help address the challenges facing the industry to propel economic growth.
BY DAVID ADADEVOH