Mr. President, while you were away, our Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo on February 26, 2020, signed a letter that directed Freight Forwarders, Clearing Agents and other stakeholders in the country, to use the UNIPASS/Ghana Link system to clear their goods, beginning from Sunday March 1, 2020, a directive that could have very easily disrupted revenue generation and trade facilitation at the country’s ports some 10 months to general elections.
We, at The New Publisher, have absolutely no doubt that our Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, was very wrong and completely out of order in writing that February 26 letter for UNIPASS to start work when the company was clearly not prepared and had not demonstrated their preparedness to his office, to the Economic Management Team or to other relevant state institutions.
As to the motivation that inspired Yaw Osafo Marfo to issue that directive, we cannot tell but we certainly know it was a directive that could not have been enforced and if it was to have been adhered to at all cost, Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta would surely have lost some of the already scarce revenue he needs to finance his Free SHS project, most especially in an election year.
Ghana and the Nana Akufo-Addo government was saved by the bell because in a country that relies very heavily on the ports for revenue generation, it would have been catastrophic for a company that is not prepared to take over that job of seeing to revenue generation.
It has been over a week since Yaw Osafo Marfo directed importers to start working with UNIPASS. Meanwhile UNIPASS itself is still scratching head to figure out how to make its supposed superior system work. To fill in the gap, it has recommenced training programmes for the relevant stakeholders.
Why then the indecent haste in directing importers to start working with UNIPASS? What at all is broken with the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) that Osafo Marfo is eager to fix at all cost even if it means creating new problems for government.
What is he waiting for before he withdraws that letter?
Meanwhile, the UNIPASS/Ghana Link contract with the government of Ghana has very scary termination conditions, we thought, should have made our Senior Minister a bit more cautions to be sure and double sure the company is fit and capable of starting work.
Per the contract, Ghana would be paying a cool USD92.27 million to the company if it starts work but is asked to terminate within the first year. Why sign a $40Million contract with a termination clause of $92 million plus?
Anyway, it was originally signed on the blind side of Nana Akufo-Addo’s Cabinet and Ghana’s Parliament but that notwithstanding, the persons who claim they have Ghana’s interest at heart should be questioned on why they are pushing on the country a new system which they have not seen being demonstrated or tested anywhere in this country.
Where is the report on the simulation pilot test and demonstrations that were done in Aflao and Takoradi? Going on radio to claim the pilot tests were good without making the reports available is mere propaganda. Tell us which institutions of state have seen and vetted the reports.
Instead of objectively addressing the critical questions being raised by relevant stakeholders in the ports operation and revenue generation cycle, the pro-UNIPASS Ministers and deputy ministers in government have become very emotional and biased on the subject. Some have even become self-appointed spokespersons for UNIPASS/Ghana Link.
They take offence and become jittery when critical questions are asked.
Our only consolation is that the world is watching and there is a precedent of what happened to government appointees who took decisions that led to financial loss.
But our worry is the avoidable confusion it would cause this government and the disruption it would cause to revenue generation.