Trade facilitation and revenue generation at Ghana’s ports came to a total standstill yesterday and not a single import was cleared because Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo had instructed the trade facilitation vendors, GCNet and West Blue to stop work and let Ghana Link/UNIPASS take over.
If the two companies, West Blue and GCNet, do not return to work, the situation at the ports would get worse from today and the rest of the week.
The new system Osafo-Maafo has asked to take over is operated by Ghana Link/UNIPASS as it has turned out as an incompetent one that could not handle the trade facilitation and single window operations.
This incompetence, on Tuesday, led to importers, freight forwarders, clearing agents and other stakeholders stranded, confused and agitated.
“We are only obeying the directive from Yaw Osafo-Maafo because we are a law-abiding company and that is all we have to say for now”, senior management members of both GCNet and West Blue Consulting told The New Publisher.
Ghana Link/UNIPASS had been operating at the Takoradi Ports for about a month now and situation reports shows the system was a packaged mess that was causing huge revenue loss, yet, Yaw Osafo-Maafo directed the company to take over the Kotota International Airport (KIA) and the Tema Ports with the same problematic system from yesterday Tuesday April 28 and this was what led to the mess because the company could simply not deliver.
The unprecedented huge leakages in government revenue at the Takoradi Ports occasioned by Ghana Link/UNIPASS has been documented in a satiation report that has been submitted to the office of Trade Minister Alan Kyeremanten but he continued to give his support to the same Ghana Link/UNIPASS to extend their faulty operations nationwide as if he was completely not worried about the evidence of revenue loss presented to him.
Indeed, it was the same Ministry of Trade, under Alan Kyeremanten, that signed the 10-year sole sourced contract with Ghana Link/UNIPASS and said the government of Ghana would give the company an amount of almost $93Million if the contract is terminated in the first year, although the entire contract sum was just $40 million.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanten
In the situation report submitted to Alan Kyeremanten by the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, it was clearly stated that: 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 report had other shocking revelations that showed that Ghana Link/UNIPASS was simply not ready to take over the trade facilitation and the Ghana National Single Window across the country.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Kweku Kwarteng, has been one of the Nana Addo appointees pushing the Ghana Link/UNIPASS agenda. His exact motives remain unknown although there are reports he and the Ghana Link owner, Nick Danso are on certain terms.
Mr. Kwarteng has consistently insisted in many radio and television interviews that the Ghana Link/UNIPASS system was ready to take over from West Blue and GCNet and that even without the two companies, Ghana Link/UNIPASS has the competence to handle the system with efficiency.
Kwarteng, a deputy to Ken Ofori Atta, at a point, dragged the name and person of Nana Akufo-Addo into the controversial Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal which is now disrupting revenue generation and trade facilitation at the ports, saying it was the President himself who travelled to Korea and approved the deal for Ghana.
It is a surprise that the President would not have done some due diligence before personally approving of a contract that has sparked civil society groups, think tanks, relevant stakeholder institutions and the general public all expressing shock and dismay.
Not only was the 10-year sole sourced contract for Ghana Link/UNIPASS itself originally signed on the blind side of Nana Addo’s Cabinet and Ghana’s Parliament but the company was so unprepared to an extent that the Economic Management Team (EMT), at a point had to step in and direct it to go and do the right thing and then get back to Cabinet.