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Minority decries $ 93m termination clause in UNIPASS contract

The Minority in Parliament has described as strange and worrying, government’s commitment to pay 93 million dollars in case the Ghana Link/UNIPASS contract whose total value over the 10 years is $40 million is terminated. 

They questioned why government would go ahead to sign such a contract without recourse to due process and with a company that has no tried and tested single window system.

In March 2018, Ghana Link Network Services Limited, in collaboration with Customs UNI-PASS International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea Customs Services, were through sole-sourcing contracted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to introduce UNI-PASS system at Ghana’s ports for a period of 10 years at a cost of US$40m.

In the contract, the government would have to cough out an amount of $93 million that would be paid to Ghana Link and its overseas partner CUPIA Korea owning UNIPASS if the company is allowed to start operating Ghana’s National Single Window platform and asked to stop in the first year in the event of any anomaly whatsoever detected.

The Deputy Ranking Member on Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee,  Yusif Sulemana addressing the media said “What would have been logical will be to pay Ghana Link/UNIPASS the remaining value of their contract in the event of a unilateral termination of the contract by Ghana”. 

“If it is the contention of government that this is not the logical thing to do, then on what basis are they in a letter signed by Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo proposing to pay GCNet the value of the unspent term of their contract? ” he asked.

Mr Sulemana said GCNet and West Blue system have been audited by both local and international agencies and had been acclaimed globally for its robustness and efficiency; receiving some of the highest ISO certification.

He said the two companies operating Ghana’s single window at the ports have since 2015 worked to increase government’s revenues consistently except in 2019 when the government reduced benchmark values at the ports, adding that “The accumulated growth in customs revenues between 2015 and 2018 was about 76 per cent, rising from some GH¢7.5 billion in 2015 to about GH¢13.2 billion in 2018.”

“So why will our government seek to replace such companies with a sole-sourced company with no proper track record in the business and with no verifiable superior systems?” he quizzed.

Mr Sulemana said the closest anyone could affiliate Ghana Link to port services delivery is through its subsidiary Africa Link Inspections Company Ltd (ALIC) in Sierra Leone. 

Ghana Link’s subsidiary, ALIC was contracted by Sierra Leone to deliver an end-to-end system in 2012 but as at January, 2020 when their contract was being terminated, they were yet to deliver.

Giving details why the ALIC was kicked out, he said the company was found not only to have failed to implement important and vital components of their contract, but also to have in connivance with their parent company, Ghana Link, allegedly manipulated financial records for tax evasion purposes. 

“Again, the Sierra Leonean authorities also found that ALIC had allegedly failed to pay taxes to the tune of Le45 billion”, Mr Sulemana added. 

Mr Sulemana asked, “Why will any government replace a cheaper system that is delivering its mandate with a more expensive one that is unproven to be superior?” 

He said “The combined fees paid to GCNET and West Blue for their services is 0.54 per cent of FOB. With this Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal, government of Ghana has decided, for whatever reason, to pay 0.75per cent of FOB. This was after granting Ghana Link duty- and tax-free importation of their inputs (which GCNET and West Blue do not enjoy).

“Our question to President Akufo-Addo is; what specific addition is Ghana Link/UNIPASS bringing on to warrant the extra 0.21 per cent of FOB? Why is government providing Ghana Link with inordinately higher fees for a service that is being provided at a lower cost? Ghanaians want to know why they will be paying more for this unproven system,” he said.

By Times Reporter

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