Baring any last minutes hurdles the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA and its partners will soon kick-start the full implementation of the new electronic custom clearance and information system at the country’s ports and borders.
Piloting of the system known as UNIPASS, an end-to-end e-customs initiative is expected to commence next week at the Takoradi Port.
The system which is replacing the GCNet and West Blue platform is believed to be more efficient, reliable, simpler, guarantees data security, user-friendly and capable of helping the state to check revenue leakages and enhance overall national revenue collection regime.
These attributes, the GRA believes make the new system better than the existing GCNet and West Blues platforms.
Deputy Commissioner in charge of Policy and Programmes at the Customs Division of GRA, Felix Teye Mate-Kodjo revealed these at a media sensitisation workshop on UNIPASS in Tema for selected journalists.
He said as part of preparations towards the implementation of the new system 1,500 clearing agents and other stakeholders have been trained while key IT systems have been installed.
Mr. Mate- Kodjo said efforts are underway to migrate all data in the GCNet system onto the new single-window platform.
He explained that GCNet will continue to operate until such time that the data is migrated.
He said with the level of cooperation from critical stakeholders, the system is expected to be roll-out without hitches.
Speaking on the features of the new system, a Senior Revenue Officer, Customs Division of GRA, Smile Agbemenu said while the existing clearance process involves eight stages, UNIPASS has six minimum stages.
He said the new system is composed of six features.
These are; Clearance Management, Portal management, Cargo Management, Information Management, Single Window and Administration Management.
Touching on the Benefits of UNIPASS, a Principal Revenue Officer at the Customs Division of the GRA, Gerald Agbettor mentioned that the system will provide a one-stop service for all customs clearance procedures through a single window.
This, he explained involves the integration of all government agencies associated with trade and passenger processing, enabling the sharing of information among regulatory agencies, customs and other stakeholders.
Also the new system Mr. Agbettor noted will ensure reduction of clearance time.
“With UNIPASS, the time taken to process import clearance has been reduced from more than two days to a few hours, adding that the system provides a paperless working environment for all customs clearance procedures.”
Furthermore, the new platform will guarantee real-time cargo tracking management.
Mr. Agbettor stated that the system has been designed to collect Bills of Lading from shipping companies, airlines and forwarders and assigns a cargo tracking number to each consignment.
This he believes will allow Customs officers, importers and exporters to access information in the process as well as the status of the cargo at each stage, stating the time, the customs officer in charge and the location of the cargo including access to the manifest, the customs declaration and the documents required during the clearance procedure.
Again Mr. Agbettor said the UNIPASS system ensures easy detection of under and over-invoicing while ensuring that tax is paid based on the declared value and financial security secured on the difference between the assessed value and declared figures.
One other benefit the system provides is that a feedback mechanism is enhanced.
The Ghana Revenue Authority and its partners have welcomed the introduction of the new customs management system at Ghana’s ports and borders.
The system seeks to provide and end-to-end supply chain solution that incorporates and consolidates existing systems currently in operation.
As part of the Government’s policy of goal of enhancing customs operations at the ports, Korea Customs was contracted by Ghana Link Network Services to introduce UNIPASS.
GCNet, West Blue and some stakeholders have kicked against the implementation of UNIPASS leading to legal challenge.
Story by Dominic Hlordzi.