IMANI: Ghana’s ‘new’ port technology system derails trade

Our ports were degigated until the pre-2002 era. Shipping companies, freight forwarders / clearance agents are now requested to provide photocopies of documents previously used to clear goods on the GCNET / West Blue platform , more efficient but grossly trashed, as a basis for manual verification of like goods currently being imported / exported.

It doesn’t matter, that the values, the prices change all the time. This essentially means that the acclaimed top ICUMS / UNIPASS system has NO price data against which they could determine the current prices and the respective taxes that must be paid to the state.

ICUMS / UNIPASS does not have data on cars from Japan for example. This is why a vehicle that costs 12,000 to clear customs on the GCNET / West Blue platform now costs 6,000 on a very manual UNIPASS.

Better yet, when UNIPASS tries to use its quack electronics platform, a 2016 Chevrolet model could be treated for 14. Yes, you read that correctly, Ghs 14!

The clearing agents would be requested to manually pay the difference between the expected values ​​/ prices / taxes on the goods incorrectly assessed by UNIPASS.

Tarkoradi Customs Sector Commander is reportedly begging customs clearance officers and giving them special tax codes to manually pay the difference in duties if they realize their duties have “gone down” from what they were previously paying. on GCNET.

A freight forwarder told me this evening: “Now all risk levels of the shipments are manually routed to the examination platform for a physical examination to be performed after scanning. Under normal circumstances in the GCNET / West Blue era, yellow shipments are expected to come out after scanning if the scanned image is free from anomalies.

Green shipments are supposed to leave the port after scanning without any human interference while the red channel is physically examined. Indeed, the scanned images as well as the details of the declaration are not accessible in the UNIPASS / ICUMS system ”

And then it takes more than a week to manually clean a single vehicle, imagine the loss of income during a pandemic. Income is down 30% in Takoradi. The theme is incalculable.

Imagine the impact on our landlocked neighboring countries that depend on our ports – Imagine the cascading impact on cargo warehousing, tracking and retail prices for ordinary consumers like us!

The Ghana Traders Union has expressed dissatisfaction with the transitional arrangement of the Ghana Universal Pass System (UNIPASS) as it costs the importer more than before.

“GUTA therefore calls on the government to resolve the associated issues and return port operations to normal with the increased efficiency that has been promised to the business community.

A statement signed by Dr Joseph Obeng, President of GUTA and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said that prior to the introduction of the UNIPASS system, the Association was made aware of the effectiveness of the new system. would bring to improve the process of customs clearance in ports. .

The statement said that the Association is assured of a smooth transition and that the pilot programs have taken place in places other than the port of Tema and “that is why GUTA was silent and observed the business trend”.

He said it was therefore surprising that the system was full of challenges that caused delays, which ultimately cost the importer, in terms of demurrage and rents.

11. If UNIPASS was that superior, it shouldn’t take three months for the Minister of Commerce and one of his deputies to visit the ports just to quell the endless protests from shipping / customs officers. They have practically become agents of compensation themselves, busy vouching for a system that generates awesome pain and drains the necessary income.

12. Laughs at Ghana which hosts AfCTA. But there is a method and a reason for this paralysis – the deputy minister admitted to me on Metro TV that he had not seen or read the UNIPASS contract. Let it flow.

13. IMANI suggested that the government:

A. Temporarily suspend UNI-PASS operations and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year in order to secure revenue to the nation, most likely GHS 10 billion given the activity depressed business due to covid-19.

B. Conduct an independent review of the UNI-PASS system.

C. The Ministry of Trade and Finance should share the revenue projections from the implementation of UNI-PASS with Ghanaians.

Helpful guide to the update above

1. The Ghana Revenue Authority requests the return of the GCNET and West Blue Port systems following failures of the integrated customs management system

2. OPEN LETTER: Why the terminated “one-stop-shop” contract of the Ghana Sierra Leone link should guide the Ghana UNI-PASS Customs and Ports Technology Contract – Chair of IMANI Petitions.

3. IMANI: A review of the trade facilitation agreement between the government and Ghana Link Network Services Limited for the provision of a fully integrated trade facilitation and customs management system.

4. IMANI: Why the government must reconsider its decision on the controversial UNI-PASS customs and ports technology.

5. Need information on trade facilitation systems – UNI-PASS, GCNet, WEST BLUE.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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