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Ghana’s Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta has urged the trading community to fully embrace the new transparency and compliance level developed through the introduction of the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) project in the country.
According to him, “I see no room for backtracking on this approach and call on all government officials in the various ministries to fully support the effort of our trading community to do their business efficiently and profitably”.
Mr Ofori-Atta made the call in a speech read for him at the second National Single Window Conference held in Accra today.
He thanked all his fellow ministers and their respective departments in the good work done to date towards the implementation of the GNSW project. “I also want to compliment our technical partners and especially West Blue Consulting for the great progress made”.
Mr Ofori-Atta therefore urged them to keep it up to enable to the country succeed in the implementation of the GNSW project.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen who delivered the keynote speech noted: The introduction of the Ghana National Single Window is facilitating the ease with which our companies compete in global and regional markets”.
“It reduces the time and cost of trading across borders and ensures predictability in delivering goods to markets. It also promotes transparency and enhances government revenue mobilisation through increased compliance and enhanced economic performance. This is mutually beneficial for both government and business”, he added.
“Indeed, I see the combination of the enhanced trade facilitation and trade development programmes as a dynamic synergy for the economic development of our country and I believe that the Ghana National Single Window Programme will play a major role in realising the economic benefit of this synergy”.
Mr Kyerematen noted that the Single Window project is enshrined in the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement which the country ratified last year.
This facility, he said would help implement many of the measures in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, through the simplification of trade procedures, the provision of trade related information, the enhancement of cooperation between related government agencies , and the implementation of international standards.
“All of these reduce the time and cost of exporting and importing goods to and from markets and enhance our competitiveness as a trading nation”.
Mr Kyerematen stressed: “As the Ghana National Single Window project unfolds over the next three years, we expect to achieve an overall reduction in the administrative time and cost of trading internationally by 50 percent to 25 percent respectively”.
“In addition to the positive impact on competitiveness and employment growth that I already mentioned, this will make Ghana more attractive to foreign investment as transparency, predictability, time and cost are the key factors in the location decision of export-oriented businesses”, he told participants at the well-attended conference.
“These developments are all parts of our ambition as a government to fundamentally change the way we work with and regulate international business in Ghana by providing an enhanced business regulatory environment. We will eliminate all unnecessary processes, simplify and harmonise the rest, and deliver a fully integrated and automated all-of-government services to our partners in economic development-the Ghanaian business community”.
For the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Kofi Nti added that the initial work under the GNSW project involved the replacement of the Destination Inspection Company (DIC) scheme with the new Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting Scheme (PAARS) operated by the Customs Division of the GRA, as recommended by World Customs Organisation.
“This has proven to be highly successful initiative, with the waiting time for approvals reduced from over two weeks to less than two days, and even hours in many cases”, he stated.
This work according to Mr Nti was followed by the introduction of a series of innovative and proactive improvements in customs services over the past two years. These he mentioned include the launch of the online single registration system for export declaration, introduction of the sea and air e-manifest system, and the establishment of the e-courier module.
Mr Nti was quick to add: “All these measures are having a very positive and direct impact on the competitiveness of the Ghanaian economy, and particular on our capacity to enhance international trade through the removal or reduction of regulatory barriers to trade”.
The Chairman of the Ghana International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Alhaji Asuma Banda who chaired the function stated: “I see a bright future if we get single window right. It will speed up trade facilitation in the country”.
Madam Valentina Mintah, the Chief Executive Officer of West Blue Consulting, the technical partners of the GNSW project said more had been achieved with the short period of the project.
In spite of these successes chalked so far through the implementation of the PAARS, West Blue is still working hard to facilitate trade and maximise revenue for the government.
Another significant achievement was the country’s historic performance on the recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing rankings.
Ghana had moved an impressive 13 places up on the Trading Across Borders in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. The report accredited the performance to the GNSW project initiated by the government.
The Doing Business 2017 report, titled ‘’Equal Opportunity for All’, showed that Ghana was placed at position 108 out of 190 countries surveyed in the Overall Ranking of Ease of Doing Business – an improvement from 111 in the previous report.
In the sub-Saharan Africa sub-region, Ghana ranked in the Top 10, coming 9th, out of the 47 countries ranked in the region. This is evidence that the Government of Ghana is pursuing active reforms to ensure the Ease of Doing Business in Ghana.
The Customs Division of GRA took over the processing of the CCRV from the destination companies in September 2015.
The CCRV replaced the destination inspection report also known as the Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR). Based on the experience of the Single Window implementations in other countries, West Blue estimated that the GNSW project would reduce the cost and time of international trade (import, export and transit) in Ghana by 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively over the next five years.
Instructively, the GNSW project was initiated on 1st September 2015 by the Government of Ghana to enhance the country’s trade and economic development and secure and increase government revenue. It was officially launched in 1st December, 2015.
Indeed, the Single Window concept was developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in 2005 as an effort to simplify, harmonise and standardise international trade procedures and associated information flows between trade and government and within government itself.
UNECE, through its UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), defined Single Window as “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once”.