An Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of the Accra Sector Command, Emmanuel Ohene has said the initial challenges during the rollout of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) has been reduced by about 70%, eight months since the introduction of the system.
Mr. Ohene, who is also the and Chairman of the ICUMS Implementation Team, said the initial delays with processing bill of entries, for example, is now a thing of the past.
He said once an importer, through his or her agent, submits documents in ICUMS that are not subject to any queries, it does not take up to two hours to process a pre-manifest declaration.
“One of the very attractive modules which is being used by about 70% of the freight forwarders is the pre manifest declaration; it is one of the pillars of trade facilitation agreement from the World Trade Organization. It allows you to process paperwork and make payment prior to the arrival of the vessel,” he explained.
The Assistant Commissioner of Customs also attributed the success of ICUMS to the decentralization of clearance processes from the Customs Technical Services Bureau.
He explained that now, outstations across the various frontiers of the country can manage some of the various customs regimes including import, export, re-export, transit, etc.
“In a place like Elubo, where we had a lot of complaints, the decentralization has taken place. Same as Aflao,” he mentioned.
Emmanuel Ohene also indicated that the initial problem of manifest matching that bedeviled the system is currently non-existent.
He said ICUMS broke down the previous Pre Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) and ensured that classification and valuation were done through the ICUMS with a Customs supervisor who quickly verifies documents and generates a tax bill.
This, according to him, has “eliminated the multiple routes one had to go through prior to the payment of duties” which is a hallmark of the ICUMS system.
The Chairman of the ICUMS Implementation Team, also disclosed that since the advent of ICUMS, 141 customs offices across the country, which hitherto were operating manually, have been brought on-board the ICUMS automated systems and by end of first quarter of 2021, all Customs offices would be on-boarded.
While admitting to some genuine complaints of the trading public regarding the new system, the Assistant Commissioner of Customs insisted that ICUMS has been significantly progressive with regards to trade facilitation in Ghana.
He encouraged users of the system to be optimistically patient, as the ICUMS team plans to soon introduce the second phase of the system, which would see the some challenges fixed as well as many added innovations.