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Tread cautiously in implementation of UNIPASS -IEAG

Stakeholders in Ghana’s port sector have cautioned the government to tread cautiously in the implementation of the UNIPASS at the ports in order not to derail the successes chalked by the paperless system.

The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG), Mr Samson Asaki Awingobit in an interview with the Times in Accra yesterday said the importers were not ready to accept any disruption at the ports due to the implementation of the new system.

He questioned why the current GCNET system being used at the port’s would not be used parallel with UNIPASS.

“We are not against the introduction of the new system but we are not ready for any disruption in doing business at the ports.”

Mr Awingobit said the existing contract with GCNET would expire in 2023 and asked why the government would not wait till the end of the contract before introducing the new system operator.

At a press briefing last week, the Commissioner of Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (rtd) said the UNIPASS trade facilitation tool will be piloted at the Takoradi Port this week.

Mr Awingobit said, “We will monitor the piloting of the UNIPASS at the Takoradi Port this week.”

However, a source close to the implementation of UNIPASS said Cabinet and the Economic Management Team (EMT), headed by the vice president Dr Bawumia were yet to be presented with a new superior UNIPASS system by the Ghana Link and its oversea partner CUPIA Korea Customs.

It said the persistent attempt by UNIPASS to take over the single window operations at the ports was a blatant disregard of the directive of the EMT.

Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, in a release last week asked the government to rescind its decision on UNIPASS until its promoters have been able to demonstrate a tested and superior system.

“They should also prove what components of the system are developed by CUPIA’s Ghanaian partners, Ghana Link and SML?  And provide evidence on the methodology used for South Korea and other reference countries and why Ghana’s approach has been different,” it said.

According to IMANI there were set standards and methodologies for implementing IT systems of this scale that needed to be followed.

The Economic Management Team (EMT) on December 18, 2018, directed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to suspend the single window system takeover by CUPIA of Korea Customs Service (UNIPASS) and Ghana Link Network Service Limited.

The decision which was communicated to the Ministries of Trade and Finance was to ensure that issues regarding the takeover of operations at the country’s ports were addressed.

In the statement, the EMT tasked CUPIA of Korea and Ghana Link Network Service to provide a demonstration that they had developed a “full end to end customs technology solutions systems, successfully tested, with independent stress report and provide a comprehensive implementation plan to the EMT by the end of January 2019”.

The paper has gathered that the promoters of UNIPASS are lobbying for GCNet to hand over its system to them so they can operate with it.

GCNet the paper understands has been promised that it will remain at the ports until its contract expires in 2023 if the owners agree to hand over.

According to the paper’s sources, GCNet has declined and is not ready to hand its system to any company, not even UNIPASS promoters.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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