In September 2017, through the formidable efforts of the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the paperless port system was legitimately introduced to inject potency into Ghana's port clearance system. The migration from the archaic regime to the more efficient technologically driven concept was aggravated due to Dr Mahamudu Bawumia's observation that the old system had too much human interface and interactions as well as challenges associated with handling of hard documents. These visible irregularities were considered as major contributory causes of massive pervasion of corruption impacting negatively on the country's revenue inflows.
Subsequently, among the myriad of expectations to be derived based on the paperless concept were the improvement of the market competitiveness of the ports to contribute to the enhancement of international trade business activity in the country. Conspicuously, the policy was intended at improving the entire cargo clearance system by exterminating associated unjustifiable and wanton delays. Furthermore, the removal of cumbersome customs barriers on the transit corridors to guarantee unobstructed flow of stowage from the Ports of Ghana to the neighbouring countries was one key determinant factor that ultimately motivated the institutionalisation of the laudable concept.
Indeed, there was no doubt that the concept would help boost the overall ports efficacy for prompt acceleration of socio-economic progression in the country's developmental trajectory; this was explicit in the few years of the deployment of paperless policy.
Paradoxically, with the comprehensive takeover of ICUMS/UNIPASS in the provision of National Single Window platform, industry players are yet to witness the existence of the paperless concept initiated by our Vice-President. Evidently, the 90% containerised cargo that was projected to undergo scanning process to exit the ports without physical examination has inexplicable reasons been relegated to the background.
The above notwithstanding, the prudent policy of taking delivery of consignments from the ports within the stipulated four hours, which was over again, prescribed by the Vice-President and thereby actualised in the cargo clearance system is ostensibly missing.
Be it as it may, most industry players are of the conviction that irrespective of which entity is mandated by the central government to provide such critical services of comprehensive National Single Window platform to the state, the good policies of the Vice President are still relevant and are, accordingly, expected to be incorporated into the cargo clearance regimes and processes for the realisation of the good intents he has in improving Ghana's international trade paradigm to ensure competitiveness coupled with escalation in improved revenue mobilisation in this era of African Continental Free Trade Area, (AfCFTA) where the country is the mandated host.
By: Joe Effah-Nkyi, (MILT)