Coalition of CSOs in Ghana has called on President Nana Akuffo-Addo to as a matter of urgency intervene and stop the Ghana Link/UNIPASS contract agreement with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
According to the group the UNIPASS deal is a total ‘rip off’ which would not serve the best interest of the country, adding that “it is a serious affront to the Trade Facilitation arrangement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)”.
The members of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations that organised the press conference yesterday include the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) , Good Governance and Advocacy Group Ghana (GGAGG) and Vanguard of Truth.
Addressing the media in Accra yesterday, the group said the port remained a strategic asset of Ghana’s economy as far as trade facilitation; revenue mobilisation and job creation among others are concerned.
It said the ports’ management must not be used for experimentation especially when Ghana had gone through a whole process for close to two decades and now had one of the world’s most enviable port management systems run by GCNET and Westblue consulting.
“We are confused with the irony in this whole decision especially because government in the last three years has touted in no small ways the massive revenue drive that these two existing vendors have helped achieve,” the group said.
“In view of these and other facts, we hold the opinion that, in a situation that government decides to make changes in the port system’s IT Infrastructure, we as a country, must do so with caution and try as much as possible to avoid disorder. We think that the trajectory on which we are riding now is not only chaotic but suicidal,” the group said.
Mensah Thompson one of the leaders of the group expressed worry that the Ministry of Trade and Industry signed a contract with Ghana Link and has announced the replacement of GCNet and West blue systems with no plausible cause, above and beyond various contrasting suggestions by players and stakeholders in the industry.
Touching on the fees of both the existing and Ghana Link/UNIPASS he said: “It has been shown in the Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal that the processing fee for the UNIPASS system will cost 0.75 per cent of Free on Board (FOB) of every transaction matched up to the combined fee of GCNet (0.40 per cent of FOB) and Westblue (0.28 per cent of CIF) which sums up to 0.68% in simplified terms.
“This means that the fees charged by both GCNet and WEST BLUE are 0.7 per cent cheaper than that which is to be charged by UNIPASS.Considering this basic fact, it does not make business sense to replace the existing system.”
Mr Thompson said: “We are also dismayed as to why the Ministry of Trade and Industry which is supposed to be the frontrunner in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation AGREEMENT (TFA) which Ghana’s Parliament ratified and was given assent to under the previous government sign a 10-year agreement with a 0.75 per cent ad valorem fee knowing very well that the WTO/TFA had outlawed on fee structures such as these for the fact that they are not commensurate with actual work done.
He cautioned government that the controversial deal could lead to revenue losses, administrative corruption and depletion of government holdings in the port system.
Mr Thompson added that with the current outbreak of the deadly coronavirus which has led to several countries like Italy into total shutdown, it had become even more dangerous to allow for the experimentation of this new UNIPASS system from Korea, second highest coronavirus infected country in the world.
BY TIMES REPORTER