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IMANI petitions presidency over Africa Link contract in Sierra Leone

Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, has petitioned the presidency to look into circumstances surrounding the abrogation of the contract of African Link Inspection Company Limited (ALIC), a subsidiary of Ghana Link in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

The petition, a copy of which is available to this paper questions why a company owned by Ghana Link – the same company mandated by government to take over the country’s National Single Window operations failed to implement an end-to-end customs management system for over seven years in Sierra Leone but that same company is now being mandated to operate Ghana’s single window system.

“It is important to note that officials continue to make the case for Ghana Link to replace existing systems that are working perfectly fine on the basis of Ghana Link’s superiority in implementing the two functions mentioned and promised in Sierra Leone, but which, evidently has failed for six years, eventually leading to termination of its agreement,” the petition said.

“They were meant to develop a single window and this is yet to be implemented after six years. This could only mean one thing-Ghana Link did not have the capacity to simultaneously implement the components they signed up to,” the petitioned signed by Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President & CEO of IMANI Africa said.

IMANI questions why it is unclear who directs, implements, reviews and owns crucial policies such as UNIPASS.

“Although the government is credited with success in Ghana’s trade facilitations processes, especially with the recent effort of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, it is however not clear who directs, implements, reviews and owns crucial policies such as UNIPASS,” statement added.

Copies of an audit conducted by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance according to the Think Tank showed that the company was cited for financial malpractices, tax evasion and as responsible for loss of revenue that was to accrue to the state due to its inability to roll out an end-to-end system after securing the contract in April 2012.

The Sierra Leone government subsequently froze the accounts of the company in that country.

A letter dated January 30, 2020 from the Office of Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister, State House, to the Minister of Trade and Industry of that country said: “I have been directed to inform you to terminate the agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and African Link Inspection 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, Ministries, 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’s 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.

Many groups have kicked against the signing of a 10-year sole-sourced contract between the Trade Ministry and Ghana Link and its Korea partners to implement a new national single window christened UNIPASS.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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