Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Col. Kwadwo Damoah, has made a categorical pledge to the trading public in Ghana, that Ghana Customs will deliver efficiently in its mandate as the Designated Competent Authority for the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement in Ghana.
Speaking on Eye on Port, the Customs Commissioner explained that, the trading public should also be more confident in customs systems’ in the application of the rules of origin, because the AfCFTA has remedial provisions to infringements within the protocols, and Ghana Customs wouldn’t want to jeopardize its reputation and submit itself to the legal ramifications thereof.
“Do not forget that if we do anything against the express provisions of the protocols, it goes against us. And there are safeguards and remedies in this protocol that the other countries can take against you if as a member state, you engage in fraud,” he elaborated.
He said the trading public should be rest assured that all necessary procedures to comply with the intra-continental trading arrangements with respect to standards to be duly followed, because Customs are in close collaboration with the various statutory agencies in the country to deliver on their mandate.
“We are not doing it in isolation. We are doing it in collaboration with Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and all the relevant state institutions that have roles to play in the certification, so they should feel convinced that as stakeholders,” he assured.
Touching on COVID-19 border restrictions, the Customs Boss opined that it would be prudent to continue to have the land borders and sea borders closed to human traffic until the adequate mechanisms are put in place, so that human lives are protected.
“Even though somehow it works against trade facilitation, it may be prudent to continue to continue to have the borders closed. But when we put in the right mechanisms in the respective countries, then we will be sure that whatever we are losing, we would be able to recover by way of capacity building and information sharing,” he articulated.
He said since the advent of COVID-19 on African soil, Customs and its allied agencies have ensured the compliance of clearly defined protocols for travellers who accompany goods to be traded across borders.
“There was the need for them to take the test within 72 hours to be able to cross into another country with a certificate indicating their negative results. Based on that they were also given defined routes to apply and designated rest stops,” he revealed.
The Commissioner of Customs while addressing some concerns on delays in processing declarations via the ICUMS, urged the trading public to begin processes well in advance of cargoes in the country to avoid such delays.
Col. Damoah urged his officers to continue to work hard in delivering on the objectives of Customs and the Ghana Revenue Authority as a whole and promised to improve working conditions of officers.