By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, March 11, GNA - Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has tasked the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to reduce physical examination of containers at the ports from the current 90 per cent to 10 per cent to make the country’s business environment competitive.
He said this could be achieved through the use scanners and risk engines to reduce the cost of doing business.
This, he said, would aid in improving Ghana’s global ranking in the “Ease of Doing Business” from the 114th position further downwards.
Vice President Bawumia gave the directive at a “Stakeholders Update on Reforms by the Government to Ease Doing Business in Ghana,” held in Accra, on Monday.
The meeting aimed at engaging and creating awareness within the private sector, which is the ultimate beneficiary of the ambitious reform introduced by the Government.
The Vice President noted that the un-stuffing and re-stuffing of containers at the ports, which did not bring much revenue to the government, was unnecessary, saying that in international best practices, only two per cent of containers undergo physically examination.
He explained that it did not make sense for the nation to earn only 0.38 per cent revenue from physical examination of containers, while on the other hand applying risk engines and scanners could improve the country’s business environment, increase revenue and trade volumes to the ports.
He said the Government was on course in the implementation of reforms to reduce the cost of doing business towards making the private sector the engine of growth.
Some reforms, the Vice President said, would be introduced to improve the “ease of doing business” in the country, which would include removal of the requirement of a Commissioner of Oath before registering a business, merging all four starting a business application forms into a single data entry form and automating business application permit.
Additionally, prospective business applicants would be issued a temporary business operating permit between three and six months while the final permit is worked on.
Consequently, the mandatory joint inspection at the ports, new port terminal would be unveiled by June to improve efficiency.
Vice President Bawumia said some reforms the Government, led by President Nana Akufo-Addo, had implemented over the past 22 months in office to improve ease-of-doing-business include improvement in trading across borders with the introduction of the paperless clearing system, dealing with the construction queries and payment of taxes by allowing financial losses to be carried forward fully during the time of assessment.
He noted that if those reforms were well implemented, it would significantly improve Ghana’s ranking on the next Ease of Doing Business Report.
Apart from those reforms, Dr Bawumia added that government initiated various policies and programmes such as the National Identification System (Ghana Card), the Digital Property Addressing System, Mobile Money Payments Interoperability System, the new Smart Driving Licenses and Electronic Registration of Businesses to enhance service delivery.
More so, the Government had created a conducive macro-economic environment for potential investors to leverage on for smooth take-off, to propel the country’s industrialisation agenda.
Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, in his welcome address, said over the years, Ghana had not fared well in the World Bank’s Report on Ease of Doing Business, with Ghana scoring 60 in 2018 and being ranked 114th out of 190 countries assessed.
He, therefore, called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders in transforming public sector services, especially those that impacted directly on the private sector.
The reforms, he explained, should be tailored towards enhancing the private sector’s ease of doing business in Ghana.
In view of that, he said during President Akufo-Addo’s maiden address to Parliament on February 21, 2017, he outlined four major pillars for socio-economic development.
They are Macroeconomic Stability and Debt Sustainability, Accelerating Industrial Development, Infrastructural Development, and Agricultural Transformation.
Mr Osafo-Maafo was of the belief that the Government was on course in implementing those pillars to ensure sustained economic growth.