AfCFTA WOULD NOT CONDONE BULLYING BY “SO CALLED BIGGER NATIONS”

Trade experts in Ghana have criticized Nigeria’s bully attitude that led to the closure of its land borders from August 2019 till December 2020, and cautioned that, that kind of decision would not be condoned by the AfCFTA.

Speaking on Eye on Port, the Former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, and the Member for Parliament for Tema West, Carlos Ahenkorah, empathized with Nigeria’s reasoning to safeguard its market and people, but disagreed with the option to close its borders.

 

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EXPERTS CALL FOR INCREASED PRIVATE SECTOR PARTICIPATION IN TRADE POLICIES DIALOGUE

Experts have called on government to strengthen the involvement of the private sector regarding deliberations leading to formulation of Trade policies beyond the year 2020.

Speaking on Eye on Port, Ziad Hamoui, the National President of the Borderless Alliance said a strengthened public-private partnership in the introduction of trade and port reforms is the way to go, especially as Ghana’s government intends to ride on the back of a vibrant private sector in its industrialization agenda.

“Prior consultation is pre-requisite not just for the policy making itself, but also for policy implementation. If you want the people who are users of the policy to buy into the policy, they need to have a view of it before you decide to wake up one day and roll it out,” he asserted.

He explained that a more inclusive approach in arriving at Trade policies will help government to have a richer perspective on the practical needs of industry.

“We can’t expect a policy maker who is sitting in a building somewhere in Accra to understand what is going on at the Paga border post for example. You need someone who is on the ground who can relay the concerns of private sector representatives, civil society, the normal average consumers, and the marginalized groups.”

Ziad Hamoui, who is also the Co-Chair to the African Regional Food Trade Coalition, implored government agencies to step up in their attitudes towards participation in working groups such as the National Trade Facilitation Committee.

Contributing on the program, the Immediate past president of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, called for a defined governance structure, with representation from various levels of the value chain to be involved in deliberations leading to formulation of policies that impact international trading.

“The governance structure is that creation that must be able to properly moderate policy and expectation, so that we would have policy affected by people who are on the ground. We need that! And it is not only made up of high level operatives or those who must ensure that revenue comes into the coffers of state, or the regulators, but all folks who operate within the value chain,” he stated.

He said the lack of such governance structure leads to the inability to sustain policies that hitherto could have yielded significant results for the trading community.

The Past President of GIFF opined that it is only when there is a structured overseeing institution to ensure that policies introduced are aligned with the needs of the trading public and the Trade Facilitation Agreements made with the World Trade Organisation that such policies can be impactful.

Taking his turn on the subject, the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, Dr. Joseph Obeng, emphasized that the enduring concern of the trading public is for systems to work so that trading is efficient.

He said the expectation of the trading public is for new policy interventions to plug inefficiencies of existing systems, and bring relief to traders, but that is not always the case.

“It is not my expectation that having touted systems, they are introduced and they bring transitional issues and at the end of the day traders face the consequences of the inefficiencies,” he expressed.

Dr. Obeng said the law to ban the importation of salvaged vehicles, which has been suspended, like other policies should, in consultation with the trading public, be introduced in a phased approach, so that in reflect the economic desires of the people.

“Whatever government is doing, it is doing it for the people so, if you bring such a policy and the larger majority of the people are not happy with it, then you have to withdraw and assess why. If you are talking about new cars being assembled here, then the locals should not be surcharged. But if we think it is a good policy, then we have to go slowly,” he said.

TEMA PORT SECURITY MANAGER CALLS FOR SEVERE PUNISHMENTS FOR STOWAWAYS IN GHANA TO SERVE AS DETERRENT

The Tema Port Security Manager, Colonel William Kwabiah, has called for harsher punishments for persons who engage in stowaways to serve as a deterrent to others.

“Once you do not get punishment that is punitive enough that would serve as deterrent, we would continue to have young men who are daring to try and go on this adventure,” he warned.

Briefing Eye on Port on a recent stowaway incident that occurred on December 8, 2020, the Tema Port Security Manager said the two suspects are Aaron Abeiku Taylor, 28 years and Emmanuel Bodor, 19 years.

Col. Kwabiah revealed that the law requires individuals nabbed in the act of stowaways to be handed over to the Immigration Service who then hand them over to the Ghana Police, for prosecution.

He complained that stowaway offences are usually met with meagre fines and insignificant jail term which is not deterrent enough for offenders to not try again.

“Currently, they may be asked to pay probably 500 Ghana cedis or be sent to jail for a month or two. Normally they would get people to pay this amount, and this amount is not deterrent enough,” he asserted.

The Port Security Manager also revealed that there is a need to intensify sensitization at the community level on the negative consequences of stowaway, which his outfit has already began.

“The solution is to first educate our youth through formal and informal means. We need to engage the chiefs. We have been speaking to some of the chief fishermen, to get through to the young men to stop this practice.

” Col. Kwabiah encouraged the youth to refrain from the act, which is not as attractive as some youths perceive it to be and warned that in some occasions stowaways lose their lives in the process of their adventure. “Stowaway is not an adventure that people should attempt. Once you do, you do not end well. Most people do not live to tell their stories,” he advised.

PORT SECURITY AGENCIES IN GHANA’S PORTS TEST INTEROPERABILITY LEVELS IN INTENSIVE DRILLS

Port security agencies working within Ghana’s port enclave have undertaken an intensive exercise that was aimed at assessing the level coordination of the nation’s security apparatus as well as identify gaps to improve on towards an impenetrable port.

The interagency security exercise dubbed “dukadaya” was also to satisfy requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) which prescribes responsibilities for relevant stakeholders of the various ports across the globe.

The allied participating security institutions including the GPHA Security, Ghana Navy, the army, the Marine Police, and National Security, engaged in some simulation exercises such as stowaway detection and disembarkation, how to nullify Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), narcotic interceptions during rummaging activities by the K9 team, diffusion of potential insurgencies in the port space etc.

The Tema Port Security Manager, Col William Kwabiah, explained that such activities are important for his outfit as they seek to identify certain weaknesses inherent in the security structures so as to give room for corrective measures.

“We have been able to identify some of the inter-agency gaps we need to bridge so I am very satisfied with the exercise,” he said.

He continued by explaining the choice of certain simulation exercises that did enough to mimic realistic scenarios which tested the effectiveness of the security personnel.

The Chairman of the Port Facility Security Coordinating Committee and Harbour Master for the Tema Port, Capt. Francis Kwesi Micah, expressed pleasure at the success of the exercise which enabled the allied security group know their capabilities in containing some of the situations.

He stressed the need for improved communication skills among the agencies.

“We importantly had to try show off our capabilities by containing the situation through our communication skills,” he said.

He said consistency in such exercises would continue to enhance the capabilities of the national security apparatus responsible for the protection of the highly vital national economic assets which are the ports of Ghana. Read More

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CARGOES REMAIN UNCLEARED AT THE PORT DUE TO ELECTION- TEMA CUSTOMS SECTOR COMMANDER

The Assistant Commissioner in Charge of the Tema Collection of Customs, Joseph Adu-Kyei, has revealed that a lot of cargoes remain uncleared at the Port of Tema prior to the 2020 general elections.

He said even though this checks at the Port reveal that containers are coming into the country, importers have failed to come and clear them.

“Checking from MPS, even though containers are coming people are not clearing, all because of uncertainties around the elections,” he said.

The AC also revealed some significant decline over the course of the year which he attributed to the effects of coronavirus as well as the challenges that emerged from the introduction of a new Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).

According to him, the month of June represented the worse performing revenue month in the year 2020 due to the fact that traders were not well adjusted to the ICUMS.

“The system was new and people did not adjust well so there were challenges,” he said.

He forecasted that post-elections, the frequency in clearance will bounce back as it is the common practice during the pre-Christmas peak period, and his outfit expects to rake in a lot of revenue for government during this period.

“December is the time we rake in more revenue for the state. So after 7th December we hope that the businesses men will now come forward to do their business,” he stated.

Touching on the law of the ban on the importation of salvaged vehicles, the Tema Sector Commander confirmed that the ban remains suspended so importers may continue to bring in such vehicles.

“Nobody has stopped the importation of salvage cars so importer can still bring them and clear,” he said.

He, however, lamented the many wrecked imported vehicles abandoned at the Port which is not good for the country.

BYTE Joseph Adu Kyei also revealed many ongoing customs initiatives that are intended to make doing business at the ports of Ghana easier, like increasing digitization and the coming aboard of multiple banks for the payment of duties.

“You will be surprised to go to the car park and see some conditions of the vehicles which the owners have abandoned after receiving the tax bill.

There are a lot of salvaged vehicles which cannot be redeemed” he averred.

Overall, the panelists lauded the government, citizenry and various political parties for instilling confidence in them over the years during the electoral season which has not had any dire effects on trading in Ghana.

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