Attempts by the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNET) to have the sole right as the operator of trade documents and Customs clearance system for Ghana?s trade through the ports, have been shot down as government responds to GCNet?s protest that it is not being regarded as the ?Single Window? for trade.

Dr. Dominic Ayine
Dr. Dominic Ayine

The government has described GCNET?s expectation as ?absurd?. Apparently, the agency which felt threatened by the entrance of other destination inspection companies into the country?s trade window, wrote a letter dated June 11, 2015 with reference number NKO/rk-b/2052015 to the Minister of trade and Industry, Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah.

GCNET stated in the letter that government was breaching its agreement with it for operating the ?Single Window? and subtly threatened a potential judgment debt.

However, the government has responded through the Attorney General?s Department, in a letter signed by the Deputy Attorney General, Dr. Dominic Ayine. ?From Public policy point of view, Government has never expressed an intention to grant GCNet exclusive rights to take over all activities being undertaken by service providers within the international trade sector, such as the Destination Inspection Companies,? Dr. Ayine explained.

GCNet was incorporated in November 2000 as a private-public sector partnership (PPP) after it was granted the mandate to operate an electronic system for processing trade and customs documents in Ghana.

Government had signed the agreement mandating GCNET?s operations? in October 2000. It subsequently signed supplementary agreement in August 2013 with GCNET to reinforce certain provisions of the earlier agreement. But in none of these agreements did government state that GCNET was to be the single window for trade transactions in the country said the Deputy Attorney General.

?We wish to state that we have carefully reviewed both Agreements and have come to the conclusion that there is no possibility of a breach of the said Agreements,? a response from Dr. Ayine dated June 29, 2015 read.

??the position taken by GCNet is commercially absurd in the sense that, taken to ist logical conclusion, its effect is hat Government has granted GCNet an unfettered contractual discretion to do whatever it takes to implement an undefined contractual undertaking.?

According to the government communication through the AG?s office, it could not have been the intention of Government to give GCNet exclusive rights to undertake the implementation of an open-ended Single Window concept ?that may comprehend the activities?? and contractual obligations of these other operators such as customs valuation, classification and transport and logistics. In consequence, the position of GCNet in relation to the exclusive right to provide such services as part of its Single Window obligation is legally untenable.?

Recently, the operations of Destination inspection companies have come under sharp focus in Ghana, given the recent controversial saga of Bankwitch Limited?s multi-million dollar judgment debt after its contract was abrogated for not doing the work spelt out in its contract.

Government is now locked in a GHC 197 million judgment debt owed to Bankswitch Ghana Limited, having started when the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by ex-President John Agyekum Kufour awarded a mouth-watering destination inspection contract to Bankwitch, a company having alleged strong links to the NPP.

The contract was entered into in 2007 for Bankswitch to implement the Ghana Customs Management System, a service basically involving the provision of the same services being rendered at that time by existing DICs.

The terms of the required the system being piloted by 2008, however, the? NPP government reportedly? failed to ensure that Bankswitch met this deadline, and by 2009 it had still not switched on the system, resulting in late President Evans Atta Mills ordering the abrogation of Bankswitch.

Source: The Republic

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