Data emerging from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) shows the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) generate a record GHS10.5 billion as of December 12, 2020.
This consists of some GHS7.6 billion for the Customs Division from import and export duties, GHS2.7 billion for Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD), and the remaining GHS140 million plus in Non-GRA revenues.
It is instructive to note that in June 2020 the Commissioner-General of GRA noted that prior to the switch over to ICUMS, its predecessor, the National Single Window System operated by GCNet in partnership with West Blue Consulting, was generating a monthly average of GHS940 million.
This new data justifies government’s decision to have the new platform deployed by South Korea’s CUPIA in collaboration with its local partner, Ghana Link Network Services Ltd, despite the resistance from stakeholders during the rollout and the technical challenges the system faced by the team when the ICUMS went live nationwide June 1, 2020.
Today government officials and the GRA itself have become enthused with the revenue performance of the ICUMS pointing out that it has improved despite the adverse impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on trade volumes.
This, they argue, suggests even better revenue improvement when the pandemic eventually subsides.
Apart from June 2020, when revenue generated by the ICUMS drop by almost 4%, below what was generated same period in 2019, as a result of the challenges which dogged the deployment at Tema, the current data for the rest of the year has seen an upward trend in revenue performance.
Comparing year-on-year performance, the records would show that while in July 2020 ICUMS generated over GHS1.1 billion, GCNet and West Blue put together generated GHS949 million same period last year, representing some 23% increase since the implementation of ICUMS.
Again, in August 2020 ICUMS generated GHS1.2 billion, which is 32% higher than the GHS952 million generated by GCNet and West Blue in August 2019.
The story was not different in September 2020, as ICUMS did 35% better than what the previous vendors did same period the previous year. ICUMS achieved a similar feat in October 2020.
November 2019 was the best performance of the old vendors as they raised a little over GHS1 billion, but again they were out performed by the ICUMS of Ghana Link in November 2020, which generated some GHS 1.2 billion.
Coming from the elections and going into 2021, public revenue collection has become even more crucial for government than usual as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak has drastically limited its traditional sources of revenue even as its health and social intervention spending have been driven upwards dramatically and has seen the debt levels also ballooned.
Just last week, the Assistant Commissioner of Customs in charge of the Accra Sector Command, who is also the ICUMS implementation Committee Chairman, Emmanuel Ohene in an interview hailed the success of ICUMS, saying has significantly transformed trade facilitation.
The success of the system, according to him, includes elimination of the multiple routes prior to payment of duties, seamless processes, increasing revenue, speedy processing of pre-manifest declaration, and undertaking classification and valuation in the same system, among other things.
Mr Ohene told journalists after a successful implementation of the phase one of ICUMS, the trading public should expect the second phase to be rolled-out by the first quarter of 2021.
While admitting to some genuine complaints of the trading public regarding the new system, he pointed out that the positives of ICUMS in terms of trade facilitation and revenue generation far outweighs the initial teething problems.
He therefore encouraged users of the system to be hopeful as the introduction of the second phase of the system would see the challenges fixed and many innovations introduced.
The ICUMS was first deployed at the various entry points in March 2020 following a successful pilot at Aflao and Elubo a month earlier in February. In April, Takoradi, having undergone simulations and stress test also took off. Then finally Ghana’s biggest port in terms of size and ability to accept cargo volumes, Tema Port was hooked onto the ICUMS system on June 1, 2020.