A principal revenue officer in the Policy and Programmes Unit of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Smile Agbemenu, has evaluated the productivity of clearing agents at the Ports of Ghana, giving them a rating of nearly 80%.
During a discussion on the importance of freight forwarders in the age of technology on “Eye on Port,” he highlighted that freight forwarders have performed reasonably well in terms of customs assessment of their operations.
While there have been challenges, such as incorrect classification by some clearing agents, which can hinder trade facilitation, their overall contribution to trade facilitation remains significant.
“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.
According to him, one of the strategic aims of the GRA’s Customs division is to use cutting-edge techniques to bring stakeholders and their services considerably closer together, making it easier for freight forwarders to do their tasks.
He praised freight forwarders for providing enough data to customs that helps with business facilitation 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.
He said a customs house agent who knowingly files or obtains any false claim, and gives any false or misleading information in any matter pending before the Commissioner General, could have his or her license suspended. He then went on to explain the circumstances under which the license of a clearing agent can be revoked.
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He claimed that a customs house agent’s licenses might be suspended or withdrawn if they give the impression to one of their clients that they can obtain any favor from the Commissioner General.
He also said that a customs agent could lose their ability to conduct business if they refuse to give their client, who is entitled to it, information concerning 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.