President of policy think tank, Imani Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, has urged government to “temporarily suspend” the operations of UNIPASS and allow GCnet and West Blue to continue operating to at least the end of the year. The plea is to to ensure that there are seals in revenue gaps occasioned by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Temporarily suspend operations of UNIPASS and allow GCNeT and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year in order to assure the nation of revenues, most likely GHS10 billion given depressed trade activity due to Covid-19,” he suggests in an open letter to President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Mr Cudjoe notes that coronavirus pandemic is wiping out nearly 6% of the country’s growth projections of 7.5%. resulting in huge gaps in Ghana’s finances, there was a need to hold on to the revenue streams from GCNet and West Blue.
Mr Cudjoe, therefore, wants the President to conduct an independent review of the UNIPASS system and challenged the Ministry of Trade to share revenue projections from implementing UNIPASS with Ghanaians.
Controversies surrounding UNIPASS Operations
Since last year, the ten-year contract signed between the Ministry of Trade and Ghana Link Network Services Limited, managers of UNIPASS, has face series of criticisms from industry players and some CSOs.
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For example, some freight forwarders at the Takoradi Port have expressed dissatisfaction about the failure of the UNIPASS system to clear goods electronically and seamlessly at the port.
They allege that since April 1, when Ghana Link Services started to implement the UNIPASS/Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), valuation was being done manually resulting in delays in clearing of goods.
Also, the Minority in Parliament on April 3, 2020, opposed the roll-out of the system by Ghana Link and UNIPASS at the country’s ports.
They insisted that there is no need to do away with GCNet and Westblue at the ports, when they have proven superior ability over the years.
UNIPASS Operations Government’s response
But government has come out to debunk the assertions that the UNIPASS technology has not been deployed or tested anywhere in the world “is not accurate.”
It maintained that the UNIPASS is “efficient, tried and tested”.
“The UNI-PASS technology has been deployed successfully in Tanzania since 2015 under the name Tancis, which World Customs Organization (WCO) has acclaimed as one of the best innovative trade facilitation systems. Cameroun, like Ghana, has deployed the same technology after successfully developing their system early this year”, government said in a statement issued yesterday.
It explains further that in Equador and South America, the system has successfully been deployed since 2010 and it is still operating.
“The best place to see the efficacy of this UNI-PASS customs management technology is in South Korea itself where since 1998, the system has been deployed to successfully manage their complex and far bigger customs operations”, portions of the statement read.
Government disclosed further that it embarked on a one-year comprehensive programme where staff of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and officials of other relevant stakeholders were trained on the system as part of efforts to ensure a successful implementation of the system.
Attached below are the respective statements from Mr Franklin Cudjoe and the Government