The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) on Monday held a stakeholder forum on its newly introduced conformity assessment programme called EasyPASS to highlight its role in fast-tracking clearance of goods while effectively ensuring conformity to standards.
The EasyPASS programme is a voluntary trade facilitation scheme aimed at ensuring that products imported into the Ghanaian market are of the required quality standards to protect public health and save the environment.
GSA has appointed Bureau Veritas to carry out the verification process worldwide and deliver the EasyPASS certificate in conformity with the standards which will ensure that imported products are verified before they are brought in.
The forum provided stakeholders, including members of the Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA), the opportunity to share anticipated challenges in the implementation of the EasyPASS programme.
Addressing the forum, Professor Alex Dodoo, Director-General of the GSA, said government was dedicated to making clearance of goods at the ports as easy and stress-free as much as possible.
‘Government wants importers and the trading public to get goods out of our ports in record time. The aim of the Port Efficiency programme is to be sure that the frustration to importers, the delays at the ports is reduced to the barest minimum and that you get your goods out in record time regardless of how you do it,’ he said.
In this direction, Prof Dodoo said government’s decision was to limit the responsibility for inspection of goods at the ports to three agencies; the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Customs.
‘Government has said that the number of agencies at the port for the purposes of inspection will be three. Customs, Food and Drugs Authority and GSA. The GSA is supposed to be responsible for all inspections at the port except products regulated by the Food and Drugs Authority,’ he noted.
He urged stakeholders to share their concerns, opinions and suggestions on the EasyPASS programme as such feedback was necessary to enhance implementation.
Linda Osei-Kyeremanteng, Country Manager, Government Service and International Trade at Bureau Veritas, said the programme, which is mainly about conformity assessment, was also a trade facilitation tool as it enhanced smooth operations for the clearance of good at the port for importers and exporters.
‘EasyPASS is all about conformity assessment which involves assessment of the quality of goods in accordance to national and/or international regulations/standards. EasyPASS helps traders to have easy and fast clearance on arrival. It gives a fast track acceptance on arrival,’ she said.
Ms Kyeremanteng said Bureau Veritas has offices in all the major importing locations in the world, to examine and send GSA the report.
‘We have equipment and sophisticated machines to examine these products. Upon arrival in Ghana, there will just be inspection of the certificate,’ she added.
She said the Programme which involved conformity assessment based on the approved national standards and upon satisfactory verification, a certificate of conformity will be issued for the relevant shipment, which should facilitate Customs clearance at the port of destination.
Members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), who attended the programme agreed it was a laudable move to help businesses in the country, others had a lot of questions concerning the processes involved in attaining certificates of conformity for their goods.
Dr Joseph Obeng, President of GUTA, said GSA should respect the rights of importers and exporters in the type of system they use since the EasyPASS was voluntary.
He said GUTA would not allow members being compelled to move onto the EasyPass platform, saying the Association would resist such attempts to frustrate members who decided to use the normal system.
He said GUTA would educate members on the importance of the Certificate of Conformity to ensure that they undertake hassle-free clearance at the ports.