The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Sampson Asaaki Awingobit has rubbished Dr Bawumia’s claims that the recent increase in port revenue is a result of the implementation of the National Paperless Policy.
Bawumia speaking during NCA’s launch of the National Service Personnel onboarding programme, claimed that the paperless system which kicked off on the 1st of September, has improved revenue collection at the ports, increasing it by 56% compared to what was recorded in the same period last year.
But Mr. Awingobit has refuted the Vice President’s claims, describing it as “unfortunate” and “highly untrue”. The Executive Secretary who was speaking during a GIFF press conference, went ahead to dish out facts to back his stance.
Below is a breakdown of facts that debunked Dr. Bawmia’s claims that the paperless policy brought about revenue increase at the ports.
1. Election Year vs Election Free Year
Sampson Asaaki Awingobit pointed out during the press conference, that Bawumia made a mistake by comparing the revenue of an electon year (i.e 2016), with that of an election free year (2017).
“It is unfortunate the Vice President is trying to compare revenue from an election free year with that of an election year,” he said.
He explained that the 2016 election slowed down businesses, especially imports, thereby affecting income at the ports negatively.
“What happens is that during the electioneering season, imports decline and businesses tend to be very slow so for the Vice President to say, the one-week existence of the paperless have actually increased the revenue at the Port is highly untrue,” Awingobit explained.
2. Carry over of Uncleared Loads (Backlogs)
Asaaki Awingobit also noted that a lot of clearing agents keyed in loads of declarations, ahead of the implementation of the paperless policy. This according to him, contributed in raising port revenue in the first week of September, since many of the loads are yet to be cleared albeit their duties having been paid for.
“The Vice President should have also known that due to the migration from a paper regime to a paperless one, most clearing agents prior to the implementation of the new policy entered loads of declarations which are yet to be cleared from the Port which also accounted for the rise in revenue,” he pointed out.
For Awingobit, government should rather be worried about the development instead of celebrating false success.
“There are several declarations that are yet to be cleared from the system even though the duties have been paid. The containers are still at the Port uncleared despite having paid duty. Those are backlogs and government must be worried,” he added.
3. Unsolved Paperless Policy Hitches
Contrary to Bawumia’s claims which portrayed the paperless sytem as already running smoothly and yielding impressive results, the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association revealed that the various challenges and deadlocks hindering the smooth running ofvthe paperless system are yet to be resolved.
According to the Executive Secretary, importers who have paid monies to clear their consignment between the 4th and 6th of September, are yet to have them cleared. He therefore called on the Veep to pay attention to removing the hitches out of the way instead of presenting undue and unreal outcomes to the public.
“I urge the Vice President to direct his focus on how to make the paperless policy a robust one devoid of all the numerous challenges than churn out figers that does not represent the realities on the ground.”