Ghana's investment in deploying single window in limbo, Trade Ministry seeks new player

Ghana's investment in deploying single window in limbo, Trade Ministry seeks new player
Source: By Norvan Acquah-Hayford
Date: 04-06-2018 Time: 12:06:37:am

Ghana risks losing the huge investments that government and private sector entities have made to roll out the single window platform in the country in the last 16 years, if attempts to introduce a new player to take over the implementation of the programmegoes through.

The implementation of the Single Window platform is currently being handled by GCNet and West Blue (Customs World) with remarkable success and at a much cheaper rate.

Checks have shown that, GCNet has a contract with Government which runs till 2023 and West Blue has a valid contract with Government till 2020 and if these two companies are made to discontinue their services, it will obviously come with dire consequences, including a possible judgment debt that could spell doom for the economy.

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, recently made comments suggesting that Ghana Link Network Services with its Korean partner, CUPIA Korea Customs has been selected to take over the role of deploying the single window platform under the UNIPASS agreement.

The Minister’s key justification was that it was comparatively cheaper but available data however does not support that assertion.

According to documents and checks with industry players, have shown that, GCNet charges 0.4% of Free Onboard (F.O.B), while Customs World charges 1% of C.I.F (Cost, Insurance and Frieght), bringing the total charges from the two entities to 1.4%, but UNIPASS on the other hand will be charging 0.75% on F.O.B.

Clearly the evidence shows that Ghana has had value for money since 2002 when GCNet deployed the Single Window paperless systems with modules that cater to the needs of players in the trade facilitation space.

With the above, the recent assertion by Mr. Ahenkorah comes as a surprise to industry watchers because he is on record as having praised GCNet for the deployment of the Ghana Cargo Clearance Systems – GICCS, describing it as efficient and robust enough to deliver on any valuation needs and address any bottlenecks in the overall clearance systems at the ports to deepen trade facilitation and enhance revenue mobilisation.

Since the issue came up, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), the most critical stakeholder in this arrangement has vehemently kicked against the arrangement, asking government to reconsider its decision.

Technical Committee member of GIFF, Johnny Mantey said throwing away GCNet’s over 15 years’ experience and West Blue’s three years’ experience, coupled with the huge investment they have made, will be too costly to the state.

“The signs are really good and I do not understand why you are going to throw away this kind of experience from GCNet and West Blue. There is no value in the new arrangement. All we have been told is that the UNIPASS system will be cheaper which is not true,” he said.

Records available indicate that the GCNet enabled automation of the GRA-Custom processes between 2002 and 2016 witnessed an increase in revenue collected from GH¢2,492, 144, 65.42 in 2003 to GH¢13,160,942,845.48 in 2016. On the domestic side, revenue improved since deployment of the Total Revenue Integrated Processing Systems (TRIPS) from GHS 3bn in 2012 to GHS 15.7bn in 2017.

Additionally, through GCNet’s technical support to the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD), the Department recorded some GHS75m through the e-Registrar portal.

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