Freight Forwarders at the Tema port say although they expect some initial challenges in the upcoming ICUMS for the single window operations, they remain confident in the new system.
The Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) comes online after June 1, 2020, when Ghana Community Network Service Limited (GCNet) and West Blue cease operations at the country’s ports.
The Vice-Chairman of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Johnny Lante, said Wednesday that on paper the ICUMS – which was built by Korea Customs to be Ghana’s version of the Universal Pass (UNI-PASS) – looks good.
“For years we have been praying for a one-stop-shop and that is what we have gotten now. You do everything at one location and once your goods arrive you just pay your duty,” Mr Lante told Ghanaweb.com Wednesday, in a phone interview.
Sharing his experience with the previous system, Mr Lante said Freight Forwarders were required to go through the Pre-Arrival Assessment System (PASS), run by West Blue, which may take up to two days before they can continue with the GCNet system that allows them to make payments.
And when the goods arrive, the Compliance System will have to clear a Freight Forwarder before they are released.
He said this three-step process drags the goods clearing regime under the old system.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has already instructed existing vendors that from Monday June 1, 2020, all transactions without exception in respect of import/export shall only be processed from ICUMS.
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders said it expects that some guidelines on how to make ICUMS work run smoothly will be adhered to by managers of the system, Ghana Link Network Services Ltd.
“The information that we got from the Takoradi port was that there were issues about members not using the pre-manifest declaration. The pre-manifest gives you the option to start your declaration before the arrival of your goods, which gives you enough time to go through the system thoroughly,” Mr Lante explained.
He said those challenges must not be repeated at the Tema Port.
“Again, we also looking at the ICUMS team. Once we send declarations, we expect them to work on it as quickly as possible…You will do a declaration and it is in someone’s tray and it’s not being worked on,” he lamented about the old system.
He said the Customs Technical Services Bureau will also have to beef up its team “so that once declarations pour into their system, they will endeavour to work on them as quickly as possible.”
“We are also looking at ICUMS call centre. We expected the call centre to be fully operational,” he capped the expectations of Freight Forwarders ahead of June 1, 2020.
Last month, after a simulation exercise for the ICUMS, Acting Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Amisshadai Owusu-Amoah, assured the public of the Authority’s determination to ensure the project’s smooth take-off.
“I must say with what I have seen today, everything is going as planned. The simulation has been successful and it gives us confidence with regards to the rollout date.
“When the ICUMS is fully deployed at the Tema Port, the country will see an increase in revenue over time with many of the current loopholes blocked,” he said.
The simulation exercise was conducted by Ghana Link Network Services Limited in collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
The exercise included key supply chain players as Meridian Port Services (MPS) Limited, Ghana Shippers Authority GSA, Shipping Lines, National Security, Narcotics Control Board, Food and Drugs Authority, Bank of Ghana BOG, Ghana Standard Authority, Free Zones Authority and all other stakeholders at the Ports of Tema was aimed at testing the ICUMS and its ability to aid the free flow of both import and export.