The indecent haste to make Ghana Link/UNIPASS roll out its untested Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) at the country’s ports has created another avenue for government revenue losses as the system is not linked to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), therefore impossible to keep an electronic track on all imported vehicles and check whether or not the appropriate duties have been paid on them before they get registered at the DVLA.
The new arrangement by Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS was what pertained in Ghana decades ago when vehicles for which the appropriate taxes and duties charged on them had not been paid could still get registered at the DVLA because the systems where not interlinked.
The GCNet and West Blue systems, served as a reliable solution to this challenge and it was therefore easy to detect, just by the click of a button, which vehicles have been cleared by Customs and which vehicles entered the country through illegal means so as to evade tax.
It is an adventurous journey of complete economic suicide the country has embarked on with the introduction of the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS system that recently brought all trade facilitation activities at the Tema Ports in Accra to total halt for two and a half days.
During the period, Ghana continued to suffer revenue losses by the minute until the disastrous situation was saved by GCNet and West Blue when the two companies were asked to resume operations because the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS incompetence was glaring and also denying the country of all revenue from the ports.
Government has suffered a huge and major embarrassment after the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS failed to live up to expectation despite the tons of assurances and roof-top bragging from persons like Deputy Finance Minister Kweku Kwarteng and Deputy Trade Minister Carlos Ahenkorah.
The two had assured everyone who matters that the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS was ready to roll out even without the assistance of West Blue and GCNEt.
They had to eat humble pie when the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS failed to pass the test and rather led to a purely avoidable revenue loss to the state at time government was moving round with cup in hand begging for revenue for the IMF and other donor agencies.
Dr. Bawumia Silent
Meanwhile, Ghana’s Vice President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia in his capacity as Chairman of the Economic Management Team (EMT) has maintained an unusual silence over the proven incompetence of the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS operators and how the system continues to adversely affect the revenue inflows of government.
The Vice President has suddenly gone silent on his hitherto loud applauds of the achievements of the paperless ports and Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) handled GCNet and West Blue.
Among the several questions that Dr. Bawumia has not been able to answer as far as the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS purported takeover is concerned include why the Trade Facilitation Agreement between the Ministry of Trade and Ghana Link states that as a condition precedent government must hand over the GCNet and any other third party operations including the country’s single window trade operations and other support services relating to the processing of custom documents at the Ports to the Contractor (Ghana Link)
There is also the unanswered bit on why government has written to GCNet, ordering the company to hand over its systems to Ghana Link/UNIPASS when the same government claims UNIPASS has a superior system
It is also not certain whether the Vice President is aware of and whether he approves the contract Agreement between Ghana and UNIPASS which states that “in the event of an early termination of this Agreement by the Government, or in the event that Ghana Link Network Services Ltd (the Contractor) exercises its right to terminate this Agreement due to any material breach by the Government and in the absence of any material default by the Contractor of this Agreement, the Government shall compensate the Contractor for any loses in accordance with the scale as set out below: Within Year 1 of commencement date: USD92.97 Million…”