Business News of Tuesday, 22 January 2013
A day’s training workshop to unravel some difficulties in doing business across Ghana’s frontiers and to promote trade and seemingly relevant legitimate businesses within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held at Paga, Ghana’s frontier with Burkina Faso, on Monday.
The workshop, which was organized by the West African Trade Hub (WATH) with support from the United States Aid Agency for International Development (USAID), was a follow up to the implementation of its recommendations from its gap analysis investigation which resulted in the establishment of Border Information Centre (BIC) Programmes across Ghana’s frontiers with its neighbours.
One of the centres is located at Paga.
The Centre is expected to provide information to the public and private sectors on regional trade rules and procedures to facilitate processes at the borders to reduce the time and cost involved in transiting goods.
The participants included transporters and transport unions, shipping and clearing agents, security services including the police, immigration, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), customs division, health officials and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Mr Bashiru-Dine Abdul Hakl, Research and Development Officer at the Ghana Shippers Authority, said regular interaction could create a platform for better information sharing to resolve some pertinent issues confronting import and export of goods across the ECOWAS sub-region.
He said the objective of the training was to further give the hub an insight into trade in order to reduce the time involved in processing documentations for traders and exporters involved in sister countries in the sub-region.
Mr Noel Kossonou, Transport Specialist at the WATH and Contractor for the USAID under the BIC project, said Ghana was the leader in terms of Good Road Governance (GRG) in the sub-region beating Togo which was the leader for a long time.
He said the Paga border was graded the best in terms of convenience including low tip collection and bribery and commended Customs officials at that border post for hard work and holding the tenets and spirit of the ECOWAS trade liberalization high by ensuring that traders did business without any major challenge.
Mr Kossonou expressed regret that there were still too many unauthorized police stops and barriers between Tema Habour and the Paga post and said the numbers encouraged bribery and delayed trade as most of the vehicles would have to stop about 16 times before leaving Ghana, while in all these stops they paid monies to the police.
He said a study on the quantum of bribes truck drivers paid on the sub-regional roads was unreasonable as transiting from Tema to Paga could cost about $7 or GHc15 while other areas could even be more.
Mr Emmanuel Lawson, a representative of Customs at the Paga Border Post, said the role of his outfit was to facilitate trade to ensure that exporters and importers got through their businesses with little or no difficulties, adding that they are not to hold any impediment in the course of trade.
He said the difficulty that Customs officials usually encountered with traders or exporters was the inability of exporters to complete documentation and in such cases Customs would demand that the proper things were done hence the delays that some of the traders encounter.
A Paga branch Chairman of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Alhaji Awudu Karim, spoke about delays in transiting through Ghana and said it affected marketing of goods as other competitors would have taken the lead to catch better part of the market thereby making sales difficult for traders who use the Paga border.
He complained about transit fee of $200 in Ghana whereas in other sister countries in the Sub-region exporters paid just $7 and said the disparities did not guarantee fair and equal trading.