A principal revenue officer at the policy and programmes unit of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Smile Agbemenu has rated the productivity of clearing agents at the Ports of Ghana at almost 80%.
Speaking on Eye on Port on the relevance of freight forwarders in the era of technology, he said freight forwarders have done fairly well when it comes to the customs assessment of their operations.
He said there have been challenges with regard to wrong classification from some clearing agents which hamper trade facilitation but on the whole, their contribution to trade facilitation cannot be overemphasised.
“They have done fairly well and of course, there is room for improvement, and we will continue to do a lot of training sessions for them.
He said one of the strategic goals of the Customs division of GRA is to introduce innovative means to bring their services much closer to stakeholders, so freight forwarders don’t have to hassle in the discharge of their duties.
He lauded freight forwarders for making available enough information to customs that aids in the facilitation of business on behalf of importers.
“They are able to take advantage of the pre-arrival processes so as to get all the requirements awaiting the arrival of cargo for inspection and delivery. They have been able to provide us with accurate information and they have not been performing that badly,” he said.
Explaining the circumstances under which the license of a clearing agent can be revoked, he said a customs house agent who knowingly files or procures any false claim, and the giving of any false or misleading information in any matter pending before the Commissioner General could have his or her license suspended.
Again, “if you knowingly make any misrepresentations to procure employment in any customs business or represent to a client or prospective clients that the customs house agent can obtain any favor from the Commissioner General or any other public officer in connection with any business.”
He said a customs house agent who in dealing with his or her client makes them believe that they are able to procure any favour from the Commissioner General could also have their licenses suspended or revoked.
He added that if an agent withholds information about customs business from his or her client who is entitled to it, they can be suspended from doing customs business.
“You have to be open and transparent to your client and you need to make him know every information,” he said.
He said as part of efforts to empower freight forwarders and the trading community, Customs has enriched the clearance platform by making available a lot of information to aid customs business.
“There is so much rich information that has been made available without you logging onto the platform. We are able to engage not only physically but electronically through this platform,” he said.
Source: Eye on Port