The quest of one man to introduce UNIPASS as a third company to join the existing Single Window operators at the ports is causing some internal discord along the corridors of power and among some government institutions, not excluding the Ministry of Finance and the Trade Ministry.
Already, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, Chairman, Economic Management Team has introduced major reforms at Ghana’s ports to block leakages in government revenue and is on record to have highly commended the current single window operators as having helped in this regard.
It is also significant to note that government is making a concerted effort to reduce the number of hands and institutions as well as processes of clearing cargo at Ghana’s ports.
It therefore opens government up to mockery that the same government has announced plans to introduce an entirely new company, UNIPASS, to the ports to start operations in the single window and cargo clearing jobs.
If this attempt is allowed to see the light of day, it becomes the most direct and unequivocal opposition to all the laudable reforms Dr. Bawumia and the Economic Management Team have achieved at the ports since the New Patriotic Party (NPP), won the 2016 polls.
The newly introduced winning strategy at the ports was making Ghana an envy to the world until the Ministry of Trade recently offered a 10-year sole sourced contract to Nick Danso’s Ghana Link and its overseas partners, CUPIA Korea Customs Service as a third Single Window operator and possibly take over from the existing vendors using all means available.
Nick Danso has been in the thick of affairs get the UNIPASS deal through although the development has raised eyebrows among stakeholders and sparked some diplomatic discomfiture for the country.
The Trade Ministry awarded the trade facilitation contract exactly six months after President Nana Akufo-Addo and his vice, Dr. Bawumia, officially received a delegation from Customs World, led by His Excellency Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem of Dubai and announced that the Dubai company was injecting an initial investment of about $10 million into its trade facilitation and single window operations at Ghana’s ports as far as the paperless ports agenda is concerned.
The UNIPASS contract has raised a lot of concerns at the ports and stakeholders are yet to understand why the Trade Ministry would want to tamper with the current situation that has Vice President Bawumia integrating the platforms of existing companies operating single window systems at the ports for the smooth paperless ports scheme and trade facilitation.
It is awkward that while the Vice President has publicly repeated the NPP led-government is committed to reducing the cost and time of doing business at the ports so as to make Ghana’s ports a top destination for trade transactions, the gains made in that regard could be tampered with, with the introduction of this new company contracted to do what has been described as a duplication of roles being done by existing companies.
The paper has it that Nick Danso has been having ‘meetings’ with some high-profile people in the Finance and Trade Ministry as well as the presidency to get the UNIPASS single window deal through in spite of the fact that West Blue and GCNet are already doing same job at the ports which is achieving fantastic results for the nation.
DAYBREAK investigations reveal that Mr. Danso recently met with some big people (names withheld for now) in the Ministry of Finance to get the UNIPASS Deal expedited.
DAYBREAK will soon come out with what was discussed at the meeting and those he met.
For him, at all cost the UNIPASS single window must be implemented and he has therefore been using all his connections in the current government to get the deal through even though it has already made Ghana a laughing stock
The UNIPASS deal is not likely to serve the interest of Ghana because the system is not better or superior than what the current vendors are offering.
Perhaps, the most noticeable contribution of UNIPASS coming into place is that it would make Mr. Danso and his allies richer.
Currently Nick Danso, who is spearheading the UNIPASS deal earns GH¢7 million every month from his scanning operation at the port. The amount represents about 0.3 percent of total import charges.
Ironically his company, Nick Scan which undertakes the scanning activity earns the whopping GH¢7 million amount whether goods imported into the country passes through his scanning machine at the port or not.
Implementing Nick Danso’s UNIPASS single window will earn him 0.75% of total import revenue in addition to the 0.3% scanning charges, totaling 1.05 percent of tax payers’ money at the ports.