The Food and Drugs Authority of Ghana says from the 1st of February 2021, it will begin the strict enforcement of registration activities on imports before clearance at the country’s ports.
According to the Head of the Imports and Exports Control Division of the FDA, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng, who was speaking on Eye on Port, this has been identified by the Authority as the most effective way of ridding Ghana’s market of unregistered, and potentially unwholesome products.
“Market surveillance team go round checking for these products for seizure and destruction, but it is easier if we can control everything at the port,” he explained.
He said the Food and Drugs Authority advises importers who intend to bring in FDA regulated products like food, household chemicals, medicines, medical devices and cosmetics to commence registration processes prior to the importation of these items.
Emmanuel Kwarteng said it is important to do this in timely fashion because the FDA’s processes are very elaborate.
“You cannot bring them in, unless you register. The registration process as elaborate as is it, takes you through many processes that will finally assure the final consumer of the safety, efficacy and quality of product,” he stated.
He also advised importers to make use to the electronic means of application through the Integrated Customs Management System so as to reduce human interactions.
Emmanuel Kwarteng said the Foods and Drugs Authority of Ghana has made significant efforts to reduce the cost of registration by 80% to encourage compliance, and thus, traders’ excuse of cost would not be condoned.
He said a risk-based approach is currently being used in the assessment of products now which has halved the initial duration used in processing registration.
“We have now been able to free our hands off the low risk products. If somebody brings rice per bag, the amount of work that goes into it is negligible because it a dry cereal which is going to be cooked. If it took you 6 months to register a food product in 2018/2019, now it should take you have the time,” he revealed.
The Head of Imports and Exports Control Division at the Food and Drugs Authority warned that importers who fail to register FDA-regulated products before clearance, will face the consequence of repatriation of their goods at their own cost as well as pay an administrative fine.
He said the FDA has observed that unregistered goods cleared under detention at consignees’ warehouses intended for registration before release on the market has proven to be ineffective as these unregistered goods find their way on the market.
“What happened is that, the sheer volume was hard to chase around. Also many of our clients are disrespecting the legal document that detains the product awaiting registration,” he articulated.
He explained that the clearance under detention practice was a means to rid the port of congestion due to the large volumes, while giving importers the opportunity to register products.
However, the FDA representative emphasized that now, registration would be prerequisite for clearance at the ports.
“The registration number is key to initiate the clearance process,” he stressed.
Also participating in the discourse, a Senior Revenue Officer at the Customs Laboratory in Tema, Roger Nana Otoo Gardiner, affirmed the continued support of customs to ensure that regulated, unregistered products are not cleared at the ports of Ghana.
Pix: Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng