The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has observed this year's International Customs Day organised by the World Customs Organisation on the theme "Smart Borders For Seamless Trade, Travel And Transport" at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra.
Mr Kunyo Mikuriya, Secretay General of the World Customs Organisation in a message read on his behalf by Mr Isaac Crenstil, Commissioner, Customs Division of the GRA said that the WCO is committed to promoting the transformation of frontiers into "SMART borders" with Customs as a connecting and coordinating hub as part of ongoing efforts to ease the flow of goods and people across borders.
He said that the concept of "SMART borders" also highlights Customs' role in supporting the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He said that the concept will also encourage members to delve into the realm of technology in order to find solutions to facilitate the flow of people, goods and conveyance.
Speaking to attendees at the event, the Commissioner General of the GRA Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti said that the chosen theme underlines the significant role of Customs in ensuring international trade and facilitating of cross-border movement of goods, people and other means of transport. He said that with Customs acting as a central connecting and coordinating hub, they will work with the WCO to promote the transformation of frontiers into "SMART borders".
Mr Nti added that the Customs Division of the GRA is therefore ready to work in line with the theme for this year's celebration. He noted that the introduction of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) as part of the Single Window System, the establishment of the Customs Technical Services Bureau, the scanning of imported goods at the major ports, the paperless clearing of goods and the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) are all measures aimed at achieving seamless trade across borders.
Mr Kofi Nti outlined "SMART borders" as SECURE, MEASURABLE AUTOMATED, RISK MANAGEMENT-BASED and TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN.
He pointed out that the Customs Division will continue to work with neighboring countries to ensure seamless movement of goods, people and transport within the ECOWAS sub-region.
The Board Chairman of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr Harry Owusu said that the GRA failed to realize their revenue target in 2018 despite the interventions put in place and therefore urged that more stringent measures are observed in 2019 to ensure this year's target is realized.
"It is imperative for the Customs Division to adopt and apply current technology methods and international standards to increase the volume of international trade across the country's borders and entry points" he stated.
The Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister of Finance Mr Kwaku Kwarteng urged the Authority to use today's event as a point of reflection on their performances over the last three years. He disclosed that non-observance of the rules governing transit trade and the probable complicity and collusion of some officers cost the nation about GHC2 billion in 2018 .
He made it known that the "First-Port-of-Call Rule” which will allow customs officials from neighbouring landlocked countries to set up desks at Ghana’s Ports to collect taxes on transit goods, would commence on March 1st 2019.
Mr Ofori Attah also added that the Customs division must take seriously the use of tracking devices and lauded the decision of the GRA to let the free zones operators pay the required import duties on goods meant for free zones shops and later claim refund.
Also present at the event were other Commissioners and Technical advisers of the GRA, representatives of security agencies, state agencies and staff of the Ghana Revenue Authority.