Persons interested in bidding for auctioned goods from the ports will be able to do so from the comfort of their homes or offices due to a new feature soon to be introduced on the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).
The new feature known as the ‘E-auction’ according to Director of Operations of Ghana Link Limited – managers of the ICUMS system – Raymond Amaglo, the new feature will allow Ghanaians to participate and bid for auctioned goods at the ports online.
The ‘E-auction’ functionality which is set to be integrated into the ICUMS system, follows the recent introduction of the Direct Cargo Delivery feature which allows for the direct removal of cargoes from the ports without any form of temporary storage of it.
“The E-auction will be done with regards to goods that have found their way onto the UCL (uncleared cargo list). Cargoes on the list will go through the necessary processes by being first listed, validated and subsequently classified as such and then gazzetted for the auction process on the ICUMS platform,” stated Mr Amaglo.
“So people interested in taking advantage of auctioned goods can do so on the platform, they can bid for the goods online and if they win, they will be issued with bills which they will pay and take delivery of the goods,” he noted.
Adding the feature is to ensure that people buy goods from the port at the right prices and for transparency purposes.
According to him, the ‘E-auction’ feature of the ICUMS forms part of the modules to be introduced in the second phase of the implementation of the ICUMS system.
Other features to be introduced on the platform include; the advanced passenger information system mainly for airports, E-wallet, the authorised and economic operator module which prioritizes applications of compliant traders among others.
“By the time we are done deploying the modules, stakeholders will even be happier and the various trade processes at the port will be smoother and Ghana will be the beneficiary,” Mr Amaglo averred.
Meanwhile, key stakeholders within the port trade chain say import and export procedures through the country’s sea and land borders have seen a significant improvement in clearance time.
This feat according to them is attributed to the implementation of the much talked about Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).
They said the pre-manifest declaration (PDM) procedures imbedded in the ICUMS had provided room for importers and agents to clear cargo within a day, except in situations where they had unsatisfactory issues with the cargo examination processes.
In the view of the stakeholders, the implementation of the system has also brought significant benefits to terminal operators, importers and freight forwarders.
In Ghana the introduction and implementation of the system was greeted with controversy with many calling on the government to halt its execution.
Deployed on June 1, 2020, the ICUMS currently covers some 135 Customs operational points across the country including the Elubo and Aflao borders, the Tema and Takoradi ports, as well as the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
The pre-clearance allows importers to make necessary applications to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for approval of permits on cargoes that require clearance.
It also grants an importer or agent access to create a Bill of Entry (BOE) and other such processes to enable Customs to undertake classification and valuation to determine the duties and taxes to be paid.
In addition, the stakeholders said the process had fulfilled Section 50 of Customs Act 2015, (ACT 891) which ensured that importers and agents were able to make declarations to Customs and other regulatory agencies, processed them, had results and made payments for the imports way ahead of a ship’s arrival.
While some of the stakeholders pointed out that the development had made it possible to escape payment of interest charge, demurrage and port rents, thereby providing real-time trade flow, others maintained that trade cost still remained high since there were still some elements of delay charges importers and traders often had to pay.
The Chairmen of the Takoradi and Elubo Chapters of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Mr Mathew Dzeke and Mr William Kojo Johnson respectively indicated that while there were challenges that occasioned the initial roll out of the ICUMS, enhanced features introduced along the way had streamlined a lot of paperwork processes within the last year.
“The past year has seen significant improvement in processes which has made export compliance and other suspense regimes such as warehousing and Free Zones becoming seamless,” Mr Johnson noted.
The stakeholders in Takoradi also indicated that although there had been an improvement by way of service delivery, they had issues with the transfer of vehicles from the Inland Container Depot (ICD), Tacotel to the Safe Bond Car Terminal for clearance as a result of the ICUMS listing the Tacotel terminal as the default freight station.
That notwithstanding, Mr Johnson stressed that nearly 80 per cent of port processes within the ICUMS were devoid of the use of paper documentations.
“Except for vehicles that must have a Customs utilised stamps which is required for vehicle registration by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), we will say our processes here in Takoradi are fully paperless,” Mr Johnson said.
Also sharing his views, the Terminal Manager at Tacotel, Mr Richmond Appiah, said while the system was smooth-running devoid of any major challenges, they would only wish that Customs improved on the tallying and evacuation of container processes in the ICUMS.