Cabinet has approved the implementation of the UNIPASS Trade Facilitation and Customs Management System.
But, in the wake of the dust being raised by former handlers of the project, Ghana Link, which together with Customs UNIPASS International Agency (CUPIA), an Agency of the Korea Customs Service (KCS), would be implementing the project sometime this year, have spiritedly parried allegations that it cloned an existing software.
“Ghana Link has not launched any new system. It was the Government Technical Implementation Committee that invited us to do a presentation of the entire proposed UNIPASS system to them together with our technical partners; CUPIA.
“This we did and they were very satisfied. They subsequently requested that we start the transition process from the 1st of January 2019, as the agreement between the government of Ghana and West Blue was ending by the 31st of December 2018.
“We were also asked to assist, which we obliged so where from the allegation that we have cloned a software,” a Ghana Link management told the paper.
He said GRA and Customs know UNIPASS more than anybody so Ghana Link could not have provided a duplicate of a system government was already doing away with when it had paid millions of dollars to purchase the software and hardware to implement the project.
New Crusading GUIDE gathered that after the transition process of the UNIPASS system, which was originally scheduled to start on January 1, 2019, was suspended by the Economic Management Team (EMT).
Officials from the government technical transition team (including officials from the MOF and GRA- Customs Division) have visited CUPIA in South Korea, the owners of the UNIPASS system to see at first hand the UNIPASS system as it operates in Korea and how it has impacted on the economic growth of Korea.
Also, this paper learnt that before the contract was approved, a six-month feasibility study was conducted by CUPIA in 2015 with a report on the "Modernisation of Ghana Customs" using the UNIPASS system being produced and presented to the government.
In the process, however, training was provided to some senior customs officials in Korea on the UNIPASS system before a green-light was given for the project.
Ghana Link with its overseas partners, CUPIA Korea Customs Service will provide the trade facilitation and Customs Management System at a 0.75 per cent fee (FOB) per their contract with the Ministry of Trade.
The figure, according to industry experts is way cheaper than what the existing three vendors, External Verification, West Blue GCNet are currently receiving as a fee.
Currently, West Blue Consulting earns 0.28 CIF which is equal to 0.32 FoB, External Verification earns 0.1 CIF-equivalent of 0.16 FoB, whilst GCNet earns 0.40FoB. Put all three existing vendors providing single window operations in Ghana together and they are taking 0.84 FoB which is way above UNIPASS’0.75 FoB and saving government 0.9FoB.
On August 4, 2015, West Blue entered into an agreement with the government to provide a single window government as part of efforts to integrate the systems of service providers at the country’s ports and facilitate the clearing of goods without voluminous paperwork and reduce transactional time.
The contract was to expire on December 31, 2018, after which West Blue would hand over the system to the government of Ghana which they reportedly have done.
“Ignore West Blue, they always lose. Just last month we won a Court case against them but the most important thing is that Ghana Link would not clone a rejected system,” a staff of Ghana Link told the paper.
In March 2018, however, the government of Ghana through the MOTI signed a 10-year sole-sourced contract with Ghana Link Network Services Ltd for the "implementation of trade facilitation and customs management system" for Ghana.
Ghana Link Network Services Ltd. with its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea Customs Service, would oversee the implementation of the UNIPASS Trade Facilitation & Customs Management System.
The UNIPASS system is currently being used in several other countries including South Korea. It is well acknowledged by the WTO, WCO, WORLD BANK, amongst others; as one of the best customs systems in the world.