Prime News Ghana

GRA rolls out infrastructure to aid UNIPASS implementation

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh

Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA says they have begun building infrastructure that will take care of critical digital services to be implemented as part of new port clearance system.

The system which is being handled by UNIPASS is expected to address traffic in the area of cargo volumes and will replace the current single window being handled by WestBlue and GCNet.

Speaking to Joy FM Commissioner of Customs Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd) said by the time the system will be ready for implementation all the need infrastructure will be in place.

"We are rolling them out in a systematic and well-planned manner, some infrastructure had already been provided but additional ones are also being provided base on the test that has been conducted when you start something you need to review and be able to see how robust and how well carted is it, so that is the aspect.........but certainly everything that is required by way of infrastructure will be in place by the time that we are ready to roll out..."

Gov't must reconsider its UNIPASS decision - IMANI

Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, has provided reasons why the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Finance should not replace the existing reliable customs and ports technologies with UNIPASS—an expensive and untested ports valuation system.

IMANI in an advisory letter to the Ministry of Trade and Industry said “Our advice to the government will be to shelve UNI-PASS until its promoters have demonstrated value far and above existing systems. It is not even smart to undertake such a major valueless project with the potential to severely disrupt trade and revenue flows.”

READ ALSO : Gov't must reconsider its UNIPASS decision - IMANI

 “Given that the two systems—WestBlue and GCNet—took two years to integrate and work cohesively, it is a wonder how long the transition period would be for UNI-PASS, whose credentials in the space are still unknown to integrate the existing system, if at all necessary?" IMANI questions

The existing paperless system at the ports—run by WestBlue Consulting Limited and GCNet– has not only resulted in increased revenues for the state but has also positioned the country as a major trade facilitator across the sub-region.

Records from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) show that port revenue has risen steadily from GH¢7.5billion in 2015 to GH¢12.01billion since the introduction of the National Single Window or the paperless port regime.

In March 2018, Ghana Link Network Services Limited, in collaboration with Customs UNI-PASS International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea Customs Services, was contracted by the Trade Ministry to introduce UNI-PASS to the ports system for ten years at a cost of $40m.

The deal was however suspended prior to take-off by the Economic Management Team (EMT) due to the inability of the promoters to demonstrate superior value and integrity of their technology as well as a unanimous rejection by port users.

IMANI Africa noted that the: “Economic Management Team (EMT) in December 2018 to examine the implications for adopting UNI-PASS on the turnaround times and the costs to users and the government. After listening to all major ports stakeholders, the EMT suspended the implementation of UNI-PASS until August 2019 due to the inability of the promoters to demonstrate superior value and integrity of their technology.