My attention has been drawn to a publication by the Member of Parliament for Bolga Central attributing complications at the Tema Port on Tuesday 28th April, 2020 to the Senior Minister, following the roll out of the New Customs Management System, the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).
I find this assertion very unfortunate and call on the MP to withdraw and apologise to the Hon. Senior Minister. Holding the Senior Minister responsible for what happened at the Tema Port last Tuesday would be unfortunate and a calculated attempt to malign an honest politician who is respected by both sides of the House.
The newly signed trade facilitation agreement between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and South Korea Customs UNIPASS International Agency (CUPIA)/Ghana Link was a government decision. Cabinet set up a Joint Inter-Ministerial Oversight Committee (JIMOC) chaired by the Senior Minister to oversee the implementation of the ICUMS.
The Senior Minister has diligently discharged his duties as the Chairman of the Joint Inter Ministerial Oversight Committee to oversee successful deployment of an end-to-end Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS). But for the Senior Minister we would not be where we are today with the reinstatement of calm in our clearance processes.
What happened in the port last Tuesday was reminiscent of a typical system deployment which had done well in other collections like the various entry points and the port of Takoradi during piloting but challenged at the final full implementation for various reasons.
Every Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system newly deployed experiences difficulties and show significant “left outs” that only needs fixing. You never get a newly introduced system from the start without any operational hitches. It happened at the onset of GCNet in 2002 and West Blue in 2015 but these problems were surmounted with time to make the system near seamless.
The few problems identified during piloting have been successfully corrected and ready to roll out at the Tema Port. It is relevant to note that the challenge encountered was not a system challenge rather an operational challenge.
To suggest that the Senior Minister eyes the UNIPASS for his pension exposes the mindset of a befuddled ignoramus. The Senior Minister’s intervention rather calmed nerves and brokered peace and understanding amongst all stakeholders with a resultant resumption of operations at the port.
It is worth noting that UNIPASS did some work with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in 2015, where it undertook feasibility studies on a single window operation with regards to international best practices as compared to having multiple vendors for the clearing of goods at the ports which hitherto had created a lot of congestion including goods going into demurrage, etc.
The new system will enhance fast processing and quick reconciliation of documents unlike the multiple systems.
It would be very unfortunate if Hon. Isaac Adongo’s confusion hinges only on the occurrence of last Tuesday’s brouhaha to support his judgement of an inferior system been deployed.
It has become undoubtedly clear by stakeholders that the UNIPASS system once fully deployed would ensure a considerable increase in revenue mobilization and security.
I wish to state that, the Senior Minister, a former Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, has no interest in who operates the port or what pertains but is rather interested in maximizing revenue and adopting the best practices of trade facilitation at our ports.
The Honorable Member should perhaps do a little research in such matters before spewing irresponsible statements on the economist, banker, engineer, and politician, who has diligently served in many capacities in public and in private sectors.
I, therefore call on the Member of Parliament for Bolga Central, Hon. Isaac Adongo, to withdraw his reckless statement and render an apology to the revered Senior Minister.
HON. CARLOS AHENKORAH, MP.
MEMBER OF THE JOINT INTER MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE
DEPUTY MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY