Importers, Exporters express concern about ICUMS… says it’s fraught with challenges

The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG) says the implementation of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) at the country’s ports was fraught with human induced challenges.

The Association said these challenges included poor customer service; lack of regular training and meeting with stakeholders, and non-existent teamwork between ICUMS and some critical regulatory agencies.

It has, therefore, called on the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to address the weaknesses in order to improve the system which would improve the clearance chain and could be graded 70 per cent.

The Technical Adviser to the Executive Secretary of the Association, Jacob Agyemang, said this at a press conference yesterday in Accra where he announced the Association’s assessment of ICUMS –two years on.

Deployed in mid-2020, ICUMS is a single-window project a trade facilitation tool introduced by the government to facilitate trade activities at the ports as well as improve revenue generation.

The IEAG assessment of the system, according to Mr Agyemang, was based on the comparison between the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNeT) and West Blue Consulting which were used before ICUMS.

On the issue of customer service, he said, unlike the previous system where customer service officers addressed challenges of importers and exporters effectively and promptly, they struggled to get their issues resolved.

Noting that this increased turnaround time and affected them financially, he recommended that technical officers be attached to customer care to help them, while there should be appropriate channels to report and address issues.

Mr Agyemang said due to lack of training and meetings between implementers of ICUMS and users, the latter were often unaware of system updates until they encountered the changes while they were using the system. 

The collaboration between the ICUMS and other regulatory agencies, he said, would help ensure that the system automatically identified the commodities that needed permit.

That notwithstanding , he said ICUMS had improved clearance chain and trade; synchronised all platforms for clearance, brought easy navigation on the platform and had helped to permit acquisition at the declaration stage.

 “With the help of ICUMS, there is an automatic update of exchange rate without having to do a post-entry,” he said.

On other port matters, Mr Agyemang urged the Customs Division to decentralise its powers when it came to delayed clearance to enhance their work.

He also entreated the Ghana Shippers Authority to crack the whip on shipping Lines which were charging illegal fees.

The Executive Secretary of the Association, Mr Samson Asaki , commended the government for the system and expressed hope that the challenges would be addressed as soon as possible.   

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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