Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has called for an immediate suspension of the supposedly superior Ghana Link/UNIPASS and now ICUMS system as it is creating major problems in the trade facilitation chain at Ghana’s ports and points of entry.
Challenges such as freight forwarders and agents being unable to clear their goods under the Ghana Link-UNIPASS-ICUMS platform, a return back to manual declarations instead of the improved electronic and paperless ports system, undue delays and loss of revenue are some of the frustrations GIFF cited as reasons the new system must be shelved until the operators are prepared to start work.
“We have had the luxury of comparing what we currently have (GCNet/West Blue) and what is coming up (Ghana Link-UNIPASS-ICUMS) and I can tell you that these problems started from the entry points; Elubo, Aflao, Paga, Sunyani, they were all supposed to migrate into the new system from the days that we were given and they could not go back to use the old system.
“The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of difficulties that people, our members cannot use the system and I can tell you for a fact that in all these places I have mentioned, about 80 percent of the work there now is being done on the CGNet and West Blue system”, Edward Akrong, President of the GIFF told Citi TV’s Godfred Akoto Boafo on the stations ‘Face to Face’ talk show.
Mr. Akron continued: “If you go to Elubo now, and this is very verifiable by Customs themselves, or you go to Aflao, our members are still using the GCNet system because of the difficulties inherent in what is new which is the with the UNIPASS system. I am saying that if this has to be done, we should be ready. If this has to be done, it should be done well. Let us make sure everything is in place and the system is okay then we can move on to work.”
According to GIFF, the situation is disappointing, embarrassing and frustrating to all the stakeholders in the trade facilitation chain. He said at the Takoradi ports for instance where the situation is unbearable, GIFF has officially made a compliant to the Customs Sector Commander there, an Assistant Commissioner but the situation is rather getting worse.
In the middle of the crisis, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Marfo has directed that the Ghana Link-UNIPASS-ICUMS despite the glaring incompetence should completely take over from GCNet and West Blue across the country by April 28.
Government has not known peace since alarm blew that Alan Kyeremanten’s Ministry of Trade had signed a 10-year sole sourced contact with Ghana Link for the company to take over the Ghana National Single Window operations.
Apart from the curious termination clauses contained in the contract, questions have been asked as to why any government would replace the existing systems, which is less costly but highly productive in delivering its mandate with a more expensive and has not been tried and tested
It has come to light that the combined fees paid to GCNET and West Blue for their services is 0.54% of FOB. With this Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal, government of Ghana has decided, for whatever reason, to pay 0.75% of FOB.
This was after granting Ghana Link duty- and tax-free importation of their inputs (which GCNET and West Blue do not enjoy).
Another strange and worrying issue with the Ghana Link contract is why the government of Ghana, under Nana Akufo-Addo, has committed that if it had to unilaterally abrogate or it materially breaches the contract with Ghana Link/UNIPASS, Ghana will pay graduated fees of US$93 million to US$12 million in the first to the tenth year, to the company.