There is an unprecedented huge leakages in government revenue at the Takoradi Ports and this happens daily but no one in the Nana Akufo-Addo government has the courage to put a stop to the leakage because doing so would mean questioning the efficiency of the newly introduced Ghana Link/UNIPASS- ICUMS as a single window operator.
A classified situation report on the deployment of the UNIPASS Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), sighted by DAYBREAK from the Ministry of Trade, reveals that the Ghana Link/UNIPASS- ICUMS system is dangerous to the economy and since its introduction at the Takoradi Ports, there have been major disruptions in trade facilitation and revenue loss to the state.
The situation reported, authored on Monday April 17, 2020, with a main focus on the Takoradi Port, noted that one of the serious issues with the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS system is gross under valuation that is making users pay ridicules lower duties than they ought to have paid, thereby causing revenue loss to government but even when the attention of authorities were drawn, they appeared to not bother.
The report noted: “One major issue identified is that of valuation. This is a serious matter which we found ran across board. The original instruction was to upload evidence of valuation done prior to 1st April 2020 when creating the Bill of Entry (BOE). It is strange however that most of these values were ignored and revised mostly downwards even to the chagrin of the declarants who feel this was an anomaly and constituted huge loss of revenue to the state but could do nothing about it!
“A situation can actually be confirmed where the declarant remarked in the system that value had been revised lower than the original CCVR but the appeal process itself is taking days so who would want to bother?
“There was another specific situation where a vehicle/personal effects valuation showed a GHS1000 upward adjustment in the value of the car and a GHS2500 downward adjustment in the values of the cargo albeit the original CCVR created by the same customs had been attached for guidance. Some values already affected by the 50% reduction policy have still been revised downwards leading to ridiculously low duties.
“Vehicle valuation has always been standard by virtue of our unique system of valuation but several cases are replete with variations in values. This is a huge problem and will have a serious effect on revenue collection”, the jaw breaking situation report compiled by the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) noted.
The report continued that “the issue of COR (Customs Offence Report) in this system is another matter. It is non-existent or cannot be seen. This is definitely at the heart of revenue. What happens when there is a short collection after examination which must trigger a post entry?
“One flaw is the inability to load excel format invoices. If one has over 500 line item, this has to be typed and entered as such.
“Delays in uploading of manifest onto the system was and still is an issue. It can be confirmed that not a single cargo had been cleared as on 24th April from a Grimaldi Vessel that arrived last weekend. Since no declaration can be done and manifest matched if it is not uploaded on time is a major flaw and bound to cause all the delays that we are witnessing.
“It is interesting to note that for an end-to-end system, the EMDAs cannot be validated in the system. Declarants are still resorting to creating the permits on other platforms other than the ICUMS and effecting copy and paste on the ICUMS and for some strange reason they are accepted. eg. Ghana Standards Authority EMDA acquired from another platform ie GCNET are copied and pasted on the ICUMS and accepted. This gives rise to the creation of 2 UCRs one for the EMDA and the other for the declaration being done. This is unacceptable!!”, the report noted.
GIFF, in the 25-point situation report concluded that “these have all culminated in serious delays leading to untold hardship. Demurrage and rent payments have become the norm with no respite in sight. Quality assurance is key to repose confidence in the new system. These are not normal times, the scourge of COVID-19 presents a clear and present danger to us in view of the very predictable massing up of our compatriots in search for solutions. We have seen this happen, the state will have to tarry awhile in the implementation to get all the fundamentals right. An attempt to introduce this in busier ports like KIA and Tema would be disastrous to say the least.”
Interestingly, the government of Ghana seems not bothered about the situation and has rather directed that the same Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS system be made to replicate their word across the country, including the Tema Ports and the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), starting today Tuesday April 28.