ACCRA, Ghana will implement new measures and sanctions at its ports from Sept 1 to meet international standards in fulfillment of the government’s determination to enhance efficiency to support national development.

The measures include the removal of internal Customs barriers within the country, mandatory joint inspections as well as ensuring a paperless port, the government said in a statement here Wednesday.

It added that following broad consultations with relevant stakeholders, a number of measures would be be introduced to improve efficiency and make the ports more user-friendly.

It said agencies or service providers which are not ready to go paperless by Sept 1, would not be allocated any cargo. Strict sanctions would be imposed on declarants who presented falsified documents.

There will be a two-strike rule of first a punitive fine and second a complete ban, the statement warned.

Regarding the removal of internal Customs barriers, it said: These barriers will be redundant in the long-term with the introduction of the First Port Rule in Ghana. Duties will be paid on goods destined for re-export with the new automated gate opening system at the port, which will be linked to the risk engine. No vehicle will be able to leave the port without paying the duties. In the short term, they will be replaced with occasional patrols.

From Sept 1, this year, we are not going to physically open and inspect all containers. We are introducing a risk engine which will assign risk levels to importers based on their level of compliance. When the need arises for inspections, the agencies needed for the inspections will be informed about the inspection time and place for joint inspections and they will have to sign in on an electronic device at the inspection shed to confirm their participation.

Referring to the move to go paperless at the port, the statement said: With the help and co-operation of all the stakeholders at the port, we have mapped out a process flow, which will take effect from Sept 1, 2017. Agencies and stakeholders presented paperless process flows, which we merged into a process flow that will enable compliant importers to sit in the comfort of their offices or homes and get customs clearance.

The statement said the Government’s goal within the next six months was to have a robust risk engine which would grant Customs clearance in a maximum of four hours.