Two of Ghana's key statutory agencies, the Food and Drugs Authority of Ghana and Ghana Standards Authority have intimated that deliberate interventions made in their service provision are geared towards promoting traders' ease of doing business while performing their core mandate of regulating trade through monitoring and standardization.
Head of Centre for Import and Export Control at FDA, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng.
Speaking on Eye on Port, the Head of the Centre for Import and Export Control at the Food and Drugs Authority, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng revealed that cost of registration at the FDA has been reduced drastically with some products seeing up to 80% reduction.
He also explained that while the FDA maintains a thorough approach to the necessary checks and assessment, the time limit for registration has also been reduced significantly.
"If you consider United States of America, registration of a single drug can take a year, but in Ghana, now it takes about 6 months. Some food products can even take a week," Mr. Kwarteng added.
However, the Head of the Centre for Import and Export Control at FDA advised that manufacturers and importers would do themselves a big service if they begin registration processes very early prior to the importation of FDA regulated products into Ghana.
Mr. Kwarteng also disclosed that at the Ports of Ghana, the FDA has been able to further integrate its systems with the customs risk engine in order to facilitate trade.
"FDA has 13 categories of points inputted in the risk system based on the product type. For example, biscuits have been identified to be as less risky unlike dairy and frozen products which are easily contaminated. So we attend to them differently so that FDA can quickly have products regulated at the port," the FDA official elaborated.
He explained that these and other internal arrangements that have been introduced are also oriented towards positioning Ghanaian businesses for trading in the AfCFTA.
Also speaking on the same program, the Acting Director in Charge of the Western Corridor, and Head of the Competent Authority for Fish and Fishery Products at the GSA, Jessica Nkansah revealed that digitization introduced to importer registration process has saved time and cost for the trading public.
Ag Director in Charge of the Western Corridor at GSA, Jessica Nkansah speaking on Eye on Port
She said, "Importers used to lose a lot of money. They did not know that it is a requirement for them to register products and it is when the goods have arrived at the port that they want to register. When it was manual, it took some time, and demurrage will start accruing and they got very frustrated. Now the importer registration is seamless."
Mrs. Jessica Nkansah also said one of the newer service deliveries is the inspection of the premises which has come to ease the burden on the trading public.
"If GSA is unable to finish the conformity assessment procedure within 48hrs, then they may consider a provisional release of the product into an identified warehouse on the condition that those goods will not be allowed unto the market until the results of the test come out."
According to her, import certification as known as EasyPass has also been made efficient and less burdensome for clients.
The GSA Acting Director for Western Corridor said, "this time, inspection, sampling, and testing is done at the country of export so by the time they get here, they have a certificate of conformity from an identified third party inspection body. For now, we are partnering with Bureau Veritas and Intertek."
She said despite all these interventions, the Ghana Standards Authority is committed to taking on industry inputs on positive ways to improve doing business.
This includes working towards having a hotline that would attend to traders' frustrations in real-time, all in an effort to better facilitate trade.
The Head of the Centre for Import and Export Control of the Food and Drugs Authority, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng emphasized the need for increased compliance to registration regulations in Ghana.
While lamenting some recent happening of rejected Ghanaian palm oil in the United Kingdom, Mr. Kwarteng said, "Ghana has made a lot of effort to make the local palm oil industry going. We have reached a pivotal point and we do not want to sit down to watch a few people destroy it."
Mrs. Jessica Nkansah on the other hand said this would not only help protect the local market but, will help Ghanaian traders meet the requirement to trade within the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The representatives of the statutory agencies said the interventions to reduce cost and burden on traders make it more imperative for them to comply with regulations.
The FDA exists to protect public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, food, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, household chemical substances, tobacco and the conduct of clinical trials in the country.