The Economic Management Team (EMT) has directed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to immediately suspend the January 1, 2019 single window system takeover by CUPIA of Korea Customs Service and Ghana Link Network Service Limited.
The decision, which was taken on December 18, 2018 and communicated to the ministries of Trade and Finance, is to ensure that issues regarding the takeover of operations at the country's ports are addressed.
A letter to that effect was signed by the Secretary and member of the EMT at the Vice-President's Secretariat, Professor Joe Amoako-Tuffour, and copied to the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr Kofi Nti.
The EMT has also demanded an additional eight-month transitional period (January to August) to avoid potential disruptions to port clearing systems.
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On March 29, last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry signed a 10-year sole-sourced contract with Ghana Link Network Service Limited and its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea Customs Service, to oversee the implementation of the National Single Window Project, including the paperless system, at the ports.
The new system the company is expected to roll out is called the Single Window and Customs Management System (UNIPASS).
Many stakeholders, including Imani Ghana, a policy think tank, have expressed displeasure at the takeover by UNIPASS, explaining that the introduction of a new system will disrupt government’s ongoing paperless port activity which has reduced the cost and time of doing business at the ports and increased revenue substantially.
In the statement, the EMT tasked CUPIA of Korea and Ghana Link Network Service to provide a demonstration that they had developed a "full end-to-end Customs Technology Solutions Systems, successfully tested, with an independent stress report, and provide a comprehensive implementation plan to the EMT by the end of January 2019".
Before the takeover happened, the EMT, the statement said, expected the Attorney General to provide an opinion on the implications of terminating the GCNet contract, which expires in 2023.
"That the minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Finance bring to Cabinet for consideration and approval the UNIPASS arrangements and Ghana Link Network Service Limited," it said.
The takeover of single window operations from Customs World (West Blue Consulting) and GCNet will cost taxpayers more money.
Ghana Link, with CUPIA Korea Customs Service, will provide the trade facilitation and Customs management system at a 0.75 per cent fee (FOB) per their 10-year contract with the Ministry of Trade.
This means that Ghanaian importers will pay about US$180 million at the end of the 10-year contract based on current import volumes.
This figure is extremely higher than what the existing vendors, West Blue and GCNet, are currently receiving as fees.
West Blue, with its overseas partner, Customs World Dubai, currently earns 0.28 per cent, while GCNet earns 0.4 per cent. So the two vendors providing single window operations in Ghana together are taking 0.68 per cent, which is below what UNIPASS is going to take (0.75 per cent).
The single window system was introduced in 2015 by the previous government as part of efforts to integrate the systems of service providers at the country’s ports and facilitate the clearing of goods without voluminous paperwork and reduce transactional time.