The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has officially joined the list of stakeholders at Ghana’s ports opposing a disturbing decision by the Ministry of Trade to award a 10-year contract, through sole-sourcing, to Nick Danso’s Ghana Link and its overseas partner, CUPIA of Korea Customs to engage in yet another single window arrangement at the ports.

“The trajectory on which we are riding is not only chaotic but suicidal. We have travelled on this journey before and have learnt our lessons as a country and for that matter we don’t need to repeat the errors of old. This is why it was very unfortunate for the Ministry of Trade to have announced the replacement of GCNET and West Blue Systems with no justification”, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, Executive President of GIFF noted at a press conference in Accra on Monday.

He continued: “Whilst the Ministry takes this initiative they fail to understand that, the Port as a strategic asset of this country CANNOT and MUST not be used for experiment.”

The GIFF press conference noted categorically that : “It is important for the Ministry of Trade to understand the strategic role of the port and its impact on GDP and the economy at large and for which reason they have to go back to the drawing board and rethink carefully before bringing any such intervention.

“It should be noted that any such intervention should be driven strategically by evidential data suggesting a justifiable reason for takeover. Interestingly, in this write up, we have been able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt by facts and figures that what we have on the ground is a work in progress and challenges identified are being fixed and therefore any attempt to replace the system will be akin to reinventing the wheel. WE DON’T NEED UNIPASS!!”

GIFF also noted that the introduction of UNIPASS does not make prudent economic sense because : “it has been established that the processing fee for the UNIPASS system will be 0.75% of Free on Board (FOB). Compared to the combined fee of GCNET (0.40% of FOB) and West Blue(0.28% of CIF) which sums up to 0.68% in simplistic terms.

“It is important to reemphasize that government receives 35% out of the 0.40% fee of GCNET. So in real terms, GCNET receives 0.26% (0.40% less 35%). This brings down the total of 0.68% to 0.54%(GCNET 0.26% + West Blue 0.28). These are the bear facts and as such government will have to choose between UNIPASS fee of 0.75% and the existing fee of 0.54%.

“In the wake of the rigorous review on the Paperless Port System, spear headed by no mean a person but the Vice President of the land, we suddenly hear of the UNIPASS system announced by the Ministry of Trade to replace the existing workable solutions on the ground”

GIFF said it has chosen this path of throwing more light on the discourse because Trade facilitation as a concept has been globally accepted and Ghana as a member country of WTO is neck-deep in this conversation, the narrative can therefore not suggest that of confusion going forward.

GIFF also raised some critical questions on the intended introduction of UNIPASS: “Perhaps we need to ask the following question: 1) Have we assessed critically the impact of this intervention on trade facilitation and revenue mobilization? 2)  If Yes what are the targeted Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? 3) To what extent have we engaged the stakeholders who will integrate with the UNIPASS system and what would be the cost and time of integration and who bears the cost? 4)Have we considered the impact of the change in terms of cost (training, change management and integration) and time?5)What is the total cost of the UNIPASS project? 6) What is the nature of the UNIPASS contract?7) Are we scrapping GCNET and West Blue systems? 8)Who bears the consequential cost of scrapping the two existing systems? 9) Have we thought of judgement debts? What happens to the 35% shareholding of government in GCNET?”