GCNet activates paperless exemption module

The Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) has activated a paperless exemption module to allow all applications and approvals for trade exemptions from the Ministry of Finance to be done on the eMDA portal.

The eMDA electronic portal, on the Ghana Customs Management and GCNet systems, is connected to 35 MDAs including the ministries of Energy and Petroleum, Health, Defence, Education, Interior, Women, Children and Social Protection, and Works and Housing.

Others are the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Food and Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Employment and Labour Relations, Communication, and Transport.

The rest are the ministries of Roads and Highway, Trade and Industry, Local Government and Rural Development, Water Resources and Sanitation, and the Department of Social Welfare.

This was made known in a statement signed by Mrs Aba Lokko, the Corporate Communications Manager of the Office of GCNet, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday.

It said the players in the trading community, including applicants, traders, importers, freight forwarders and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs), were required to, from February 26, 2018, process all new applications to the Ministry of Finance through the eMDA portal of the Ghana Customs Management and GCNet systems.

Prior to commencing the new application process, GCNet organised a two-week training and sensitisation programme to deepen knowledge and understanding in such areas as processing e-exemptions and approvals of permits and licenses by MDAs on the e-MDA Portal, the statement said.

It said the training brought together key actors in the clearance chain, including declarants and selected officials of the various MDAs to enhance their knowledge base on the new feature upgrades on the eMDA portal as part of measures to make the exemption process fully paperless.

The statement said Mr Eben Engmann, the Acting TradeNet Manager of GCNet, explained that the paperless exemption process allows an applicant or agent to send an electronic exemption application to the MDAs via the eMDA portal for processing and approval.

He said once the designated agency received the application electronically on the portal and was approved, entry was forwarded to the Ghana Revenue Authority (Domestic Tax and Customs Divisions) whereupon a Bill of Entry (BOE) was generated once approval was granted by the GRA.

Whenever an application is rejected, it is sent back to the applicant for revision and re-submission via the portal and once revisions done are re-submitted and approved, the clearance process continues, he said.

Mr Engmann said the paperless mode of exemption or approval application would effectively address the challenges of delays and increasing cost of clearance, among other things associated with the manual regime where an applicant would write an exemption application letter to the MDAs for processing and approval.

The MDA, upon receipt of application, forwards to sector Minister for approval.

The participants noted that in the manual regime, the approval for the application was cumbersome and hailed the development as very timely in the second phase of the implementation of the paperless ports regime.

They observed that the process would go a long way to improve the way of doing business in the country.

Sarah Kariyama, a Freight Forwarder with Reign Lamb Company, said the paperless exemption would eliminate physical movements of agents between the offices of the regulatory agencies and their supervising ministries to have exemption applications processed, thereby significantly reducing cost and turnaround time in the clearance of goods at the ports.

The new procedure would require the MDAs on whose behalf the exemptions are being applied for to grant the First Level approval whilst the Ghana Revenue Authority (DTRD and Customs), grant the Second and Third Level approvals respectively.

Ms Emelia Adjei, a Freight Forwarder with Yakumca Company Limited, said the paperless initiative would make it faster and easier, and allow real time transactions to be executed.

The training, which was held in batches from February 15 to 23, 2018 covered declarants, agents and officials from the MDAs stationed at the three main entry points; Tema, Takoradi and Kotoka International Airport.

It would be recalled that in November 2017, a Deputy Minister of Finance in charge of Revenue Mobilisation, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, launched the upgraded electronic platform (eMDA portal).

The platform was to allow MDAs and their clients process applications for duty and tax exemptions electronically in the end to end port clearance chain without the use of paper.

Source: Ghana News Agency