The Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) has completed another cycle of sensitisation for stakeholders on the new paperless regime which is to kick-start on September 1, 2017.

The sensitisation training on the paperless regime was organized for all Freight Forwarders in Tema and Takoradi during which they were taken through the new clearance process with a practical demonstration session on how to use the electronic platform to give users a hands-on experience on the new processes. This follows an earlier exercise held at the beginning of August.

The participants included representatives from the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Terminal Operators, Shipping Lines, Consolidators and Freight Forwarders among others who were taken a step by step clearance flow to give full effect to the pursuit of the paperless transactions regime.

A Deputy Manager in charge of Training at GCNet, Agyaaku Nkansah assisted by an Assistant Manager in charge of Product Support at GCNet, walked participants through the new clearance process.

They explained that a declarant is required to prepare a Unique Consignment Reference (UCR) in the GCNet system after which the declarant will be required to attach all relevant documents and send them electronically to the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS).

The next step, they explained is for declarant to obtain Permit/Exemption from the GCNet eMDA system where required and once approval is granted by the relevant agency, will be sent also to GCMS. When this is done declarants will go on to process an Import Declaration Form (IDF) in Pre-Arrival and Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) making reference to the UCR created.  Customs will then issue the Customs Classification Valuation Report (CCVR) with associated risk level. The CCVR will be sent into the GCMS.

According to them, a Shipping Line or an Airline will have to submit the Manifest via the Westblue system. The Manifest will be rotated and sent to the GCNet system, the Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance Systems (GICCS) for declaration processing. Manifest will be sent automatically to GCMS for onward processing. Amendments and House Manifest will be processed in the Westblue system and sent to GCMS.

The GCNet officials further explained that where containers need to be moved from the Terminal to an Inland Container Depot (ICD), the Shipping line will send a Container Movement Request (CMR) through the GCNet GICCS. The selected ICD will approve the request. CMR will be sent to Customs for approval. ICD will update the CMR when containers are finally received. GICCS will update the Cargo Tracking system with the current location of the container.

From this point, a declarant will prepare the declaration in the GICCS system making reference to the UCR. Declaration will be updated with all fields already provided on the CCVR. Manifest details and other reference documents are updated automatically. Item details are automatically populated from the CCVR.

The Declarant/Importer then make electronic payment using any of the available channels. Bank will confirm payment by updating the declaration status to Paid.  GCMS will send an alert (SMS and Email) to declarant on the status of declaration.

Mr. Nkansah (with microphone) responds to questions from participants during the Takoradi sensitisation

The participants were informed that when the declaration process is complete, the Shipping Line will submit an electronic delivery order to the terminal after declarant has made payment for the necessary charges which will be done through a Container/Cargo Position Request to the terminal. Terminal will position the containers based on the request from declarant.

It was explained that where examination is required, a Joint Inspection team will be notified to be present for physical examination. Release by all relevant agencies will be issued and passed onto the GCMS for the Delivery Order to be issued after which consignment may be released into Home Consumption, Warehouse, Freezone or Transit.

In order to ensure smooth take off of the paperless regime from Friday September 1, 2017, GCNet has integrated its systems with GPHA to receive billing information automatically. It has also integrated its systems with other terminal operators and shipping lines such as the Meridian Ports Services (MPS), Tema Container Terminal (TCT) and others for the exchange of electronic data.

Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia  at a recent Ports Efficiency Conference held on May 17, 2017 directed that all trade transactions be fully paperless, as well as joint inspection by all regulatory and examination bodies mandated to do and removal of barriers along the trade corridors of the country.