The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is unimpressed by the transitional arrangement of the UNIPASS system at the ports.

President of the Association, Dr Joseph Obeng told JoyBusiness the UNIPASS System “is fraught with challenges that cause delay, which eventually cost the importer in terms of demurrage and rent charges.”

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on June 1, 2020, shut down the Ghana Community Network (GCNet) clearing system as the new Integrated Custom Management System (ICUM) popularly known as Unipass, took over.

This came after piloting the system at some ports including the Takoradi and the Tema Ports and training for stakeholders.

On June 1, some freight forwarders thronged the port to air their grievances of their inability to use the new system and therefore called on the government to run the two systems concurrently instead of completely shutting down the old system of clearance which they had used for almost two decades.

“The two systems can operate hand in hand, we shouldn’t have been standing here, ordinarily, we should have been in our offices working but if you sit in the office exactly what are you going to do because the system is not working”, the freight forwarders complained.

They indicated that their expectation of having their documentation go through the system smoothly as promised by authorities did not materialize as the system kept giving them error messages when they tried inputting their information.

According to them, if the old system was running concurrently, they would have fallen on that when encountered with such challenges with Unipass.
Meanwhile, President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng wants answers to the effects of rent charges and demurrage on importers.

“At this moment, we want to know who bears the cost of such charges of demurrage and rent since the importer is not the cause of the problems in the implementation of the new system (UNIPASS)?”

To this end, GUTA has urged the government to as a matter of urgency fix challenges regarding clearing of goods at the ports and bring operations there to normalcy with the enhanced efficiency that was promised the business community.

The UNIPASS/ICUMS platform is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window: a departure from the previous system where valuation and classification and risk management and payment were handled by different entities.

It replaces the systems operated by West Blue Consulting and the Ghana Community Service Network Limited (GCNet).

The system which will see all new transactions in respect of import and export processed only through the Ghana Revenue Authority’s new Integrated Customs Management Systems, takes full effect from Monday, June 1, 2020.

CUPIA Korea, which is assisting the Customs Division to implement the UNIPASS system, has described it as an enhanced single window system for trade facilitation.