Mr. Dennis Amfo-Sefah, President, Chamber of Freight and Trade (CFT), says the 10 year Unipass contract is a masterstroke from President Akufo-Addo.
Mr Amfo-Sefah said “Government is simply rolling out a single window platform by making UNIPASS take over the duplicitous services being provided by CTN-Ghana, West Blue and the Ghana Community Network (GC-Net).
” All the government is doing is instituting a sole service provider for trade facilitation at the ports, ”he said.
He said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the ongoing controversy over the contracting of South Korean company, UNIPASS, to operate the country’s single window port management system.
According to him, the decision was a masterstroke as it broke away from the past when importers and exporters were bothered with many trade documentations at the country’s exit points.
“Gone are the days when we had ASCODA which came with a lot of paper trade and export documentations,” Mr. Amfo-Sefah said.
Tracing the antecedence of Ghana’s port management system, he said the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) were first using the first generation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) through GC-Net indicating that it did help relieve port managers from the conundrum of rationalizing bulky documentation.
He added that the second generation of the electronic data interchange system which was currently being used was a word based platform which according to him had helped trade facilitation.
“Over the years, government has tried to introduce new technologies; that is IT into the system.
That is why we currently have three vendors providing almost the same service to the Customs
Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), namely GC-Net, West Blue and CTN,” Mr. Amfo-Sefah said.
The Chamber of Freight and Trade President explained that government’s introduction of UNIPASS therefore, was timely as it would eliminate all sorts of outmoded paperwork at the port.
“The Government in its own wisdom thinks that the time has come to introduce a single vendor into the system hence the introduction of UNIPASS,” Mr. Amfo-Sefah said.
He stated that it was not true that all freight forwarders and other port workers were not in support of the use of the UNIPASS saying that he and his outfit were strongly in favour of its introduction and commended government for the initiative.
UNIPASS, which has Ghana Link Network Services as its local partner, was in March 2018 awarded $40 million 10-year single window contract to provide paperless services at the ports which would move away from having different entities handling valuation, classification and risk management system.
The introduction of UNIPASS, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) was expected to make the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) more comprehensive as the system consisted of a clearance management system, a cargo management system, an information management system and an administration system.
The system which is being spearheaded by Ghana Link Service Ltd, in collaboration with Custom, according to the International Agency (CUPIA) of Korean Customs Service, (the designer of the system), would replace the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAARS) and the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) which is currently jointly operated by the Customs Division, the Ghana Community Network Service (GCNet) Ltd and West Blue Consulting as well as provide an enhanced single window system for trade facilitation.