Ghana Link’s Sierra Leone Port contract terminated?

Ghana Link Services Limited, the company that signed a 10-year contract with the Ministry of Trade to take over Ghana’s National Single Window operation at the various ports is reported to have had its contract terminated in Sierra Leone for failing to deliver.

According to the Sierra Leone government, the contract with Ghana Link Services was terminated because since signing the deal in April 2012 with the Ghanaian company to build set up and operates single window and end to end system there, Ghana Link failed to do so.

According to an audit report, Ghana Link used its subsidiary company African Link Inspection Company Limited (ALIC), to secure the Sierra Leone single window contract.

Certified true copies of the audit reports conducted by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance concluded that Ghana Link’s company, Sierra Leone has also been involved in financial malpractices, tax invasion and revenue lost to the Sierra Leone government.

The report indicated that the Sierra Leone government subsequently froze the accounts of the company because of detected financial malpractices, after the audit.

A letter dated January 30th, 2020 from the Office of the Chief Minister, State House to the Minister of Trade and Industry in Sierra Leone and cited by this paper said, “I have been directed to inform you to terminate the agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and African Link Inspections Company with immediate effect.”

The rationale for the directive, the letter said was that,  “As part of the inspection agreement, ALIC was to develop the single window concept. This trade net messaging software allows end users, declarants, ministers, departments and agencies (MDAs) to exchange data to and from the system. This aspect of the agreement was not complied with or implemented.”

It further stated that: “ALIC is 100 per cent owned by Ghana Link. ALIC Financial Statement shows a loan of $4million from its parent company, Ghana Link. This is, however, at variance with the amount shown in the balance sheet of Le 6 billion as at 31st December 2017.

“ALIC’s US dollar loan from Ghana Link carries an interest rate of 30 per cent. When converted into Leones, the interest rate translates to 45 per cent which is extremely higher than the commercial rate. There is nowhere in the Global Financial Markets that a parent company lends to the subsidiary company US denominated loan at a rate of 30 percent. The high interest charge is suspiciously premeditated to evade tax payment as interest payment is deducted before dividend payment,” the letter stated.

It further noted that: “There is no evidence that the company has paid corporate tax to government. A recent audit conducted by the National Revenue Authority reveals that the company tax liability is about Le 45 billion. The NRA also discovered a lot of anomalies in their books.ALIC has repaid loan and interest amounting to Le 19 billion to Ghana Link”.

Lastly it said “ALIC has not been fully complying with of section 4.3 of the agreement in respect of training programmes dealings with local and overseas training courses in the areas of computerised Risk Management System, Transaction Price data and other areas of inspection.

The Sierra Leone has subsequently abrogated its contract with Ghana Link’s subsidiary African Link Inspection Company.

Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Ghana, together with other port stakeholders, last week called on President Nana Akuffo-Addo to as a matter of urgency terminate the 10-year sole sourced Ghana Link/UNIPASS contract agreement with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

According to the group the controversial deal is a total rip off and could lead to revenue losses, administrative corruption and depletion of government holdings in the port systems.

This they said was because Ghana Link and its overseas partner CUPIA Korea have not demonstrated and piloted any new system to takeover over single window operations at the country’s ports.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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