To facilitate and improve the ease of doing business at the ports, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is developing a platform to enable traders and importers register their products online to speed up the clearing process at the ports.
The move is expected to do away with various delays and removes all bottlenecks associated with the clearing process at the ports, where the FDA currently spends up to three months to give its approval for clearing of products.
Registering products online is expected to improve efficiency and eliminate unnecessary paperwork at the ports, maximize participation to improve marketing capabilities.
This has become necessary as a number of traders and importers at the ports have consistently vented their frustrations on ports officials largely due to “unnecessary” delays in the clearing process. Regarding the three months “upper limit” spent in the clearing process by the FDA, the Authority maintained that it is paramount to critically examine the wholesomeness of products by way of testing at the laboratory to ensure that public safety is not undermined.
During a recent multi stakeholder business integrity forum organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) in Accra, a representative from the FDA reiterated that though the Authority wants to facilitate trade at the ports, however, it does not want to hasten the process at the expense of public health and safety.
Speeding up the movement of goods within the ports and reducing the cost of clearing and taking deliveries of goods from them fall in line with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) trade facilitation agreement. Since international trade is a global matter, every country has to meet certain standards and principles of best practices to be able to remain competitive to attract the needed revenues and investments.
However, the FDA and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) have asserted that should there be total compliance by the trading public, majority of the teasing challenges currently facing the ports will be curtailed.
The FDA insists that despite the issuance of a directive coupled with the continuous awareness creation to sensitize traders and importers on the need to register their products before importation, majority of them have not complied with the directive.
“The public safety cannot be guaranteed if products are not registered. Once they are FDA regulated products, its ideal for importers to register them. We are pushing all registered products into the green channel. If your products are registered and it’s in the green channel, it gets to the ports and nobody opens it”, the FDA official stressed.
The FDA is one of the major stakeholders that promulgated the development of the joint Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for inspections to ensure that products are cleared on time.