Participating in public auctions by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the past was very daunting because of the corrupt and unfair practices associated with the process.
This is because the manual auction process held for many years was often saddled with scores of people claiming political affiliation, asking for favours and advantages to bid for items.
That was one of the many reasons that forced some well-meaning Ghanaians to lose interest in public auction, particularly, ones by the GRA-Customs Division.
It was against this that the GRA in October 2022, as part of its desire to increase revenue, eliminate fraud, ensure fairness and reduce risks associated with the manual auction process, made a commitment to automate public auctions.
The E-auction initiative is part of efforts by the GRA to eliminate the negative practices that characterised the manual auction system, increase its revenue generation capacity, as well as provide equal opportunities to all Ghanaians in the seamless disposal of seized/condemned and overtime/abandoned cargoes.
Since its inception, the initiative has yielded positive results because the Ghana Revenue Authority has reported an improvement in its revenue target for auction sales.
It said that the introduction of the electronic auction platform boosted auction sale revenue by 30.8 per cent for general goods and 10.2 per cent for vehicles as at the first week of November this year.
Revenue projected to be generated from the auction of general goods increased from GH¢142,640 to GH¢186,640, while revenue expected to be realised from vehicle sales jumped from GH¢1.93 million to GH¢2.13 million for the online auction that ended on November 4, 2022.
The E-auction is an addition to the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), a single window platform in deployment for cargo clearance at the country’s ports.
ICUMS is a product of the CUPIA, a professional trade facilitation solution provider offered by the Korean Customs Service and Ghana Link Network Services Ltd as its technical partner in the country.
Addressing a delegation from the Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA) in Accra, the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Dr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, said the GRA had started seeing a significant improvement in its auction processes with results received from successful E-auction exercises.
“We have executed two successful auction sales and we are expecting the third soon. For the pilot, we got above the reserved price, with an increase of 6.8 per cent, while the main auction for general goods and vehicles jumped to 30.8 and 10.2 per cent, respectively,” he said.
Dr Owusu-Amoah explained that the E-auction was a project under the GRA’s transformational agenda and its aim was to consolidate all processes, leading to the disposal of confiscated goods in an online system.
He said the objective of the project was to increase revenue through an online auction or sale, eliminate fraud related issues associated with auctioning, ensure fairness in the auctioning process by making it open to the public, and reducing or eliminating risks linked with the manual process.
E-auction Goes Live
The pilot auctioning of some selected vehicles by the Ghana Revenue Authority went live in October 2022.
The platform – http://auction.icums.gov.gh-requires users to request for the creation of an account using their National Identification Numbers.
The platform offers the option of receiving login details through SMS or email.
After logging in, users can view multiple pictures and place bids on the advertised vehicles.
Like other initiatives, the electronic auction platform has come with its own challenges that would need to be addressed.
- Lack of sensitisation among stakeholders during piloting of the platform – Some of the stakeholders pointed out that the initiative was rushed and there was very little time for sensitisation and training.
“Stakeholder engagements were seriously rushed or in-adequate. Similarly, key players in the implementation were to a large extent deficient in the understanding of the required processes.”
Measures, are therefore needed to be put in place to surmount these challenges to ensure that the E-auction is fully functional to consolidate all processes leading to disposal of confiscated goods in an online system.
To sustain the initiative, there is the need to ensure that GRA officers and their assigns, together with all owners of seized items, are excluded from participating in the electronic auction.
Ghana should be able to learn from other countries that have successfully introduced the E-auction to ensure transparency and effectiveness of the customs auction process.
Going forward, the E-auction system should be used as a means of disposing off confiscated goods in all customs-controlled areas across the country. A conscious effort is needed to ensure that the E-auction system replaces all manual processes of auction after a successful rollout is required.
By: Maclean Kwofi