Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, has announced that the government was not going to cancel the contracts with GCNet and West Blue Consulting despite signing a ten-year deal with UNIPASS to provide comprehensive national single window platform in Ghana to collect more revenue for the country.
“These two companies will be allowed to complete the contract and, therefore, the issue of judgment debt will not come to play,” he explained.
The government insists that the UNIPASS is good for the country as it will also lead to a reduction of some port charges from 1% on a consignment of imported items to 0.75% on the same quantity of goods.
Deputy Minister has also assured stakeholders at the Ports that the move would rather rake in more revenue at the ports.
“We are doing everything possible and if you see my report, it was geared towards reducing the cost of business in the port…we don’t have anything against GCNET, we don’t have anything against West Blue but we have everything against not maximising revenue collection,” He said.
Mr Ahenkorah disclosed that, shortfalls between GCNET and West Blue caused importers to clear goods at frugal prices.
“People were clearing brand new range rovers from the port at GHȻ5000…a whole container of fruit juice for GHȻ11,000 because two systems were not talking…that is how bad we were losing revenue in this country,” he revealed.
To reverse the trend the government decided to bring in UNIPASS to help provide a comprehensive national single window platform in Ghana.
Responding to fears that the sudden abrogation of GCNET and West Blue at the port may result in judgement debts, the minister indicated, MoTI is poised in its resolve to ensure that no such judgement debt befalls Ghana.
According to him it is only when the abrogation process is not done properly that the embattled parties can make claims of a judgement debt.
The UNIPASS agreement would be a government to government affair, Mr Ahenkorah noted.
“Unlike GCNET which has about 60% or more of foreign interest, this particular one is a government to government contract.”
Ghana Link Services Limited and its technical partner, Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA), Korea, in 2015 did feasibility studies between June and December on the current state of affairs of Ghana’s trade challenges and recommended appropriate solutions and systems for enhanced trade facilitation and revenue generation efficiency.
A feasibility studies recommended that Ghana should implement electronic submission system of manifest for utilization of cargo information and implement cargo processing status tracking based on cargo reference number.
The new system, to be deployed by UNIPASS, is expected to offer Ghana access to comprehensive world acclaimed data warehouse for deployment.
In the view of the ministry UNIPASS system is far better in ensuring trade facilitation compared to what Westblue Consulting and GCNet
Ghana Link Network Services Limited and CUPIA, owners of the UNIPASS technology, have according to the trade ministry, “been selected in view of the innovative features they bring into the processes of trade facilitation and revenue mobilization programmes.”
The ministry indicated in its letter to the PPA that “with the UNIPASS technology, the single window system is only a sub-camp agent. It has five main components namely, a single window system; a clearance management system; a cargo management system; an information management system and administration system.”
GIFF maintains stance on ‘bad deal’
Meanwhile the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah explains that they will rather the government reviews the current agreement to suit the interest of all parties.
He fears that arguments of a drop in the cost of some port charges may not happen considering prevailing distribution model of the operational costs.
“This issue presents the government a glorious opportunity to want to renegotiate the terms of whatever agreement that the existing platforms have already…The UNIPASS system needs to come and run the process mapping, run and code the flow before we could work. So we ask the question why fix it when it is not broken? The IT solution that is being delivered to us today, we have no problem with them,” he stressed.