Ghana may pay US$93m for UNIPASS deal, if……………. …… But Deputy Finance Minister allays fears

The government will have to pay US$92.97 million as compensation, if the UNIPASS contract is terminated within the first year of its implementation, key paragraphs of the 10-year sole-sourced contract signed in March 2018, has revealed.

A copy of the contract sighted by this paper states in part that: “In the event of an early termination of this agreement by the government, or in the event that Ghana Link exercises its right to terminate the agreement due to material breach by the government, and in the absence of any material default by the contractor of this agreement, the government shall compensate the contractor for any loses in accordance with scale of compensation as set out below: Termination within Year 1 from commencement date US$ 92.97million…”

The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, in a letter dated February 26, 2020, directed freight forwarders, clearing agents and other stakeholders in the country, to use the UNIPASS system to clear their goods from Sunday March 1, 2020.

However the importers could not carry out the Senior Minister’s instructions because there was no UNIPASS system in place at the ports when they got there on Monday March 2, 2020 to clear their goods and they therefore, had to use the existing systems of GCNet and West Blue.

Stakeholders Concerns

President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Mr Edward Akrong in an interview said “UNIPASS system is all a mess because even we tried the URL and it was not working, not to talk of other challenges we have had with their so called superior system.”

“If we do not do this right, there is going to be pure recipe for chaos, there will be a serious disruption. The government must withdraw the letter immediately, UNIPASS is not ready”

He quizzed, “What is broken that you would want to fix, there is absolutely no problem with the current system. You have over GH¢10,000 to GH¢15,000 declarants hitting your system at the same time, so there has to be serious stress test to make sure that they can withstand all that pressure. So far we have not seen any report to say that all these stress tests have been done.

Many civil society groups have added their voice to that of the importers, calling on government to rescind its decision on UNIPASS until its promoters have been able to demonstrate a tested and superior system.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Agyemang Kwarteng, responding to the issues surrounding the UNIPASS deal on Peacefm, an Accra based radio station said, the system was ready to operate and the piloting had been going on well.

He said the UNIPASS system would rather increase the government’s revenue from the country’s ports.

The Deputy Minister said there would not be any judgment debt when the existing vendors stop operating.

“If you start criticising it; moving from one radio station to the other, you are behaving like an opposition party” he said. 

BY TIMES REPORTER

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