In a related development, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, also met with Chief Executives of companies operating in the Tema Industrial Enclave as part of his working visit to Tema.
The meeting hosted at the GPHA headquarters, was intended to highlight the climate of business in every sector participating in the Tema Industrial enclave and raise concerns to the presidency on what needs to be improved to promote their businesses and the Ghanaian economy.
The Director-General of GPHA, Michael Luguje said the flagship Paperless project, has been successful on many accounts, due to the determination all stakeholders to make the system work effectively.
“The paperless project I think when it was first launched, we all felt we were too much in a hurry. We were rushing to achieve results; it was not possible to get there. But, I think down the line today, we all appreciate the benefits of that system, the number of Inspection Agencies, the bureaucracies, the paper works, too much human interface in the cargo clearance process have been reduced and I think various studies that have been conducted have pegged the success of the paperless program at east 90% and we all applaud that. Both government and industry alike, we have acknowledged that the paperless programs have generated results. I think just about two days ago, the Commissioner General of Customs did indicate that thanks to the paperless program they’re very close to hitting their target for 2018. But for us as a port, it has quickened the clearance of cargo, it has helped us economised space as cargo doesn’t sit too much in the ports. And I think for shippers, I think I can talk a little for you that you’ve benefited in terms of time, you’ve benefited in terms of cost. All these goals, we will share the credit with His Excellency and his government,” he said.
The DG of GPHA also revealed that exports which Ghana’s government is enthusiastic about is steadily growing with a 25% increase this year.
He encouraged much more capacity to be put into the export trade to make up for the imbalance exports currently suffer to imports.
“Export Sector as a port, we look forward to having sufficient export volumes that will balance imports. From our perspective as a port because it helped us even reduce cost of doing business through our ports. But from a government point of view, balance of payment advantages when exports grow. And from the little calculations we have done, in the last less than two years’ since Mr. President’s assumption of office, we noticed that export traffic has grown through our ports. Comparing 2016 to 2018 we have seen an 11% growth. 2017 to 2018 which hasn’t even ended, we have seen 25% in export traffic through our ports. And I think we are all looking forward to growing this further. Because the target for any shipping line coming into our ports looks forward to coming in full and leaving back full. That way you would be charged less in terms of freight,” he said.
Some other corporate heads raised some concerns.
Within the Port and Shipping industry, Representatives from the freight forwarding fraternity appealed for a proper governance structure that would ensure sustained policy implementation.
“It looks as if any ministry or any sector just comes in just to implement a policy and just goes away and at times we have so many problems in terms of implementation of these policies so as freight forwarders we will like to suggest to you that you think about putting a structure in place that will coordinate some of these activities at the ports,” the President of ACHAG, Yaw Kyei, stated.
“All that must be observed is the establishment of protocols making sure that the systems that are in place integrate and integrate well to deliver a seamless platform for us to operate with,” the GIFF President, Kwabena Ofosu- Appiah opined.
With regards to the tax stamp policy, concerns were raised that, its implementation has caused significant delay, and has consequently impacted negatively on the cost to importers.
“It is very sad when you pass by where the tax stamp is being implemented, you get there and people load trucks and for weeks, they are standing at one place. It doesn’t speak well of us. Something drastic must be done.”
Another issue raised was that, the public-private participation and local content development which the government is promoting, should be made stringent to ensure Ghanaians retain what is due them.
“CCAs are representatives of your customs agencies, we help collect revenue for CEPS. The same applies to the ship’s agents, making sure that everything they are bringing matches what the government allows to come in. For that reason, I will plead with you to assist us ensure that there is restriction as stated in the act for the local Ghanaian companies to handle that business.”
The President in addressing his audience, emphasized that building a strong market economy as a vehicle for economic development is fundamental to his government. Thus, encouraged private sector operators to be at the forefront of this transformation.
“We have a financial position. We want to market a strong market economy in Ghana as a vehicle for bringing prosperity to our people, what does that mean? Effectively, the private sector operators in the country should be the lead figures in the social and economic transformation of our nation. In that all the packages and policies that are coming from my government are towards this end of strengthening the market and strengthening the opportunity given for private sector operators to be able do what they know how to do best. Deliver service, create wealth, produce things efficiently and competitively,” he said.
He noted that with every great reform comes challenges in its implementation, and urged Ghanaians to be patient and trust the interventions introduced to strengthen the economy.
“Any of these reforms when they first come, we always have challenges. You never going to be able to attempt a reform without a challenge. That is the nature of human existence and social development. When the paperless came a lot of statements were made as to its ineffectiveness but over time, by and large, it has been working better and better. I think that these are the reforms that have been advanced. All of us should look at how best we can improve that performance, the necessity for them is inescapable. We can’t go back on some of those things because there are challenges, as they create challenges, what we need to do is find ways to deal with those challenges so that we can make the system work better,” he added.
Nana Addo assured the public that, with the current contentions between importers and Customs on CTN values would be addressed aptly by government.
“I think it is something that we should be able to do something about because either you have the system which is meant to forestall that or we go back to the old system which we give the authority to the customs to contest it. But I am glad I have heard it and will take the matter to the appropriate quarters and have the matter looked at,” he stated.
The President also lamented that, Ghana is experiencing an injustice where we have an accessible market but other ECOWAS member countries prevent Ghanaian businesses from accessing their markets. He described the act as not abiding by ECOWAS protocols of an integrated market.
He promised to take the issue up in the next ECOWAS meeting.
Nana Addo called for close collaboration between corporations and government for the common goal of an improved economy.
“You in business, we in government we should help each other because we have a common goal- how to develop our economy as rapidly and as effectively as possible so that we can guarantee our people a better standard of living than what they have now,” he said.