President Nana Akufo-Addo, has announced his government would this year, remove all custom barriers within the country, to facilitate the movement of goods to and fro Ghana’s neighbouring countries.
The announcement, has raised eyebrows of experts as result of the porous nature of Ghana’s boarders with several goods being smuggled out of the country and billions of revenue being lost daily.
“Effective September 1, 2017, the responsibility of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) will be reduced and traders who hitherto had to go through series of checks at these customs barriers will have little or nothing to worry”, the President said.
“Furthermore, effective September 1 this year: clearance of goods from Ghana’s ports, will be 100 percent paperless all internal customs barriers in the country will also be removed to facilitate the movement of goods”, the president has said.
Nana Akufo-Addo, said this at the opening of the 2017 World Bank Development Finance Forum held last Wednesday in Accra.
He was there to outline measures his administration, has put in place to address the several challenges that confronts the economic, business, energy and other sectors of the economy.
Though it is about four months to start the initiative, questions are being raised, as to what measures have been put in place ahead of its implementation, so not to compromise or disadvantaged Ghanaian traders.
Indeed, President Akufo-Addo, did not give details of how this policy directive is going to be rolled out, because there are a lot of goods that are smuggled in and out of these countries through these barriers.
Drugs, food products, wax prints, alcoholic beverages, refined petroleum products, cars, wax prints that are unauthorized, are regularly smuggled into this country while important commodities such as cocoa, fuel among others are smuggled out.
The decision to remove customs barriers, comes at a time when players in the industry, have decried the porous nature of Ghana’s borders, as it threatens most importantly the security of the country.
These experts, have suggested the need for government to equip security officers at these barriers, so they perform their mandate by protecting the barriers, but over the years, it has fallen on deaf ears.
But he has also announced that, businessmen and women, who import through Ghana’s ports, would have paperless transactions, while clearing their goods at the ports.
The removal of customs barriers, according to President Akufo-Addo, is one of the many programmes and policies put in place by the government to enhance and boost trading activities and also curb activities that hinder growth of the economy.
However, while government struggles to provide the necessary security equipment and devices, the men in uniform have been accused of using their privileged positions at the barriers, to extort moneys from traders, who ply these routes to neighbouring countries for goods back into Ghana.
The extortion of money, which goes into private pockets of these customs officers, always leads to increment in prices of goods brought into the country though these barriers.
If carried out, the customs will have no choice, but to suffer the consequence by ensuring that traders are not harassed, but are allowed to move freely so long as they carry nothing that is harmful to lives.
However, whether the nation will benefit from a borderless arrangement, remains to be seen.