GRA to pilot UNIPASS-Ghana at Takoradi port next week

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will, from next week, pilot UNIPASS-Ghana, its latest electronic customs management system, at the Takoradi Port in the Western Region.

The system comprises various components and modules that interact and operate as a single entity to provide an end-to-end e-customs services at the country’s ports and frontiers.

A  Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Division of the GRA, in charge of Policy and Programmes, Mr Felix Teye Mate Kodjo, made this known at a media sensitisation workshop in Accra yesterday.

It was held to deepen the knowledge of journalists and set the record straight on the digital solution which has been at the centre of controversy between industry players.

The system operated by CUPIA, the business wing of Korea Customs and their local partners, Ghana Link Network Services, when fully rolled out, replaces a similar single window system currently being operated by Ghana community Network System (GCNet) and West Blues Consulting.

According to Mr Kodjo, the pilot of UNIPASS followed a successful test run of direct imports and exports at the Eastern frontier especially the Aflao Sector to ensure the system was fit for purpose.

Despite an earlier announcement that the system would come alive by mid-February, he said a high level meeting would be convened soon to confirm the actual time this would happen.

The Commissioner of Customs, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (rtd) rebuffed assertions that the abrogation of the contract of the two companies operating the current system, would result in judgement debts.

He explained that GRA and the government was scrutinising every aspect of the existing contracts to prevent such loss to the state, noting that “every contract had room for termination.”

He said the two companies were being engaged to iron out all outstanding issues, adding that “If there are express provisions in the contract for compensation, we cannot run away from it.”

According to Colonel (Rtd) Damoah, the UNIPASS system had been found to be more efficient than the existing one and would help reduce revenue leakages at the ports and turnaround time involved in port clearance.

He said all preparations needed for the full implementation of the system was far advanced including the training of 2, 200 stakeholders, including 1, 400 Customs officials on how to use the system.

Additionally, an Assistant Commissioner of Customs, Emmanuel Ohene, in a presentation,  said a data centre had been created at the Ministry of Finance to consolidate new data to be acquired by UNIPASS  and existing ones.

On the features and benefits of UNIPASS, he said it is made up of a one-stop service through a single window that integrates all government agencies associated with trade and passenger processing.

He said it reduces clearance time through unified and simplified clearance management system, offers real time cargo tracking, risks management and expanded payment options.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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