The President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Mr. Edward Akrong, has called for more inclusion of freight forwarders in policy formulations in the country, towards well-advised policies that would improve trade facilitation in the country.
He was speaking live on Eye on Port on Consolidating the Strategic Role of Freight Forwarder in Modern Port Operations, stated that the freight forwarder’s role in both trade facilitation and revenue generation for the country is indispensable, hence, the need for them to be consulted whenever policies are to be rolled out.
“I’m pleading that they get us involved in policy promulgations in terms of things that have to do with our sector. It is the only way we can move forward. We are the end users of whatever policies or systems that are introduced. So, if we tell you there are problems with it, just listen.”
The GIFF president listed the Cargo Tracking Note as one of the failed policies introduced and maintained that his outfit opposes the policy because the things CTN was set to do, cannot be accomplished.
“We made our case saying we know that the things that CTN has set to do, it cannot do. The trump card of customs, was to go to the custom agency in the originating country to get the declaration, hoping that the declaration would tell them the true value of the goods coming in. We proved to them that, that was falsehood,” he disclosed.
He revealed again, that the tax stamp policy also did not go through consultation with his outfit before its introduction, and expressed his opinion that the elongated process of applying tax stamps defeats the progress of technology.
“It is a fine idea, but not with this age of technology. To bring out cargo from the port, and line up at a certain point to have cartons destroyed and then stick papers on them for identification…technology has come a long way for that. We want to propose a review of that,” he said.
Touching on proposed UNIPASS speculated as a replacement for GC-Net and West Blue as the runners of the Ghana National Single Window System, the seasoned Freight-forwarder maintained that there is no need for a replacement.
“Why fix something that is not broken. Has the Government asked West Blue or GCNet to do something that they are not being able to? No. They are tried and tested. The change we see is a source of worry to me. It looks like we are setting ourselves up to fail,” he said.
He, in his words “demystified” the notion that a single window system cannot be run by two entities, like we currently have with GCNet and West Blue.
“It is a myth that a single window system can only be run by one vendor. It is very possible. That is why, we call it the system of systems.”
He continued saying, “What we are doing right now, is we have a Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System. Once you input on that, it seamlessly runs into the GC-Net system where we do our declaration using the CCVR. Would you then say because we have two vendors running this, is it not seamless?”
Mr. Akrong, however, lauded the initiative to include freight forwarders in the introduction of the paperless port clearance project but described the exact implementation of the paperless process as waning over time.
“We think it is one of the best things that ever happened. The only problem is that; its effect has not been felt on the ground like we envisaged. I’d rate it at 50-60% implementation,” he opined.
He added that, “If you bear with me, in the initial days, when this policy had been effected, there was a direct government hand and a push right from Jubilee House according to how it should go, and everybody was whipped in line and made sure compliance was optimum.”
The President of GIFF said this is due to the lack of an able steering hand to drive the vision and objective of the Vice President’s initiative, and called for a direct government hand to intervene in the management of the project.
“We have always talked about a certain governance structure which is actually a UN Model. When you promulgate policies, the government has to have a direct hand in it to make sure it is working the way it is supposed to work.”
He said this in contrary to the suggestion of a lead agency within the clearance chain to drive the project.