THE Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has cautioned government against moves to introduce a third company, Ghana Link Network Services Limited, which has Customs UNIPASS International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea Customs Service as its partner, into the operation of Single Window System at the ports.
According to them, any attempt to get rid of Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) and Customs World of Dubai, which has taken over West Blue Consulting, would cost the state huge judgement debts as the two companies have valid contracts that expire in 2022 and 2020 respectively.
On the other hand, the group said adding UNIPASS to the existing platforms means government would be paying huge sums for duplication of roles.
Briefing the media in Accra yesterday, President of GIFF, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah stated that it has been established that the processing fee for the UNIPASS system would be 0.75% of Free on Board (FOB).
“This is higher than the combined fee of 0.40% FOB for GCNet and 0.28% of Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) for West Blue, which sums up to 0.68% in simple terms.
“It is important to reemphasise that government receives 35% out of the 0.40% fee of GCNet. This means that in real terms, GCNET receives 0.26% of FOB.
“This brings down the total of 0.68% for GCNet and Customs World – West Blue to 0.54% (GCNET 0.26% + West Blue 0.28).
“These are the bare facts and as such government will have to choose between UNIPASS fee of 0.75% and the existing fee of 0.54%.
“In the event that government adds UNIPASS to the two existing companies, it will pay 1.33% of FOB, which is far higher than the 0.54% being paid for the same work currently,” Mr Ofosu Appiah declared.
He said the development would only bring extra cost to businesses operating at the ports, adding that it was very impracticable, unwise, chaotic and suicidal to replace the existing system with UNIPASS.
“These things do not work well for business at all. There must be some certainty in the environment; otherwise, the signal that we are sending to business is bad,” Ofosu Appiah further stated.
GIFF discussed the antecedents leading to the implementation of the Paperless Port System.
The GIFF President established the current state of the Paperless Port System in areas such as trade facilitation, revenue mobilisation, governance structure and IT infrastructure, where he depicted the true state of affairs of the Paperless Port System.
He also said GIFF is advocating for a call centre under the control of an assistant commissioner, which can take issues from end to end and escalate them for solutions from appropriate quarters in real time.
He added that there is the need for an ever-present high-level monitoring and reporting dashboard unit with the capacity of overseeing the end-to-end process and where it is stalling for quick redress.
Ofosu Appiah said the issues frustrating the smooth operation of the paperless system at the ports are the absence of effective call centre, responding to end-to-end issues, difficulties in transmission of Customs Classification and Valuation Reports (CCVRs) from Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS) to Ghana Integrated Cargo System (GICCS).
The Single Window Project is aimed at co-ordinating all activities at the ports on one platform to reduce time and cost in clearing and exporting goods.
“I don’t think this is the best approach; it is becoming really frustrating. I must tell you we are weary of system trials. In any case, is that how we intend to develop our country?
The authorities are also keeping mute, and that is what even makes it worse,” he exclaimed.
He also said the system needs a governance structure headed by a high-level political operative whose mandate will be to criss-cross the supply chain for high-level decision and not necessarily edging out GCNet and West Blue.
“We just implemented the Paperless Ports System, and the results have been very good. GCNet and West Blue have been around for 15 and three years respectively so we ask whether the new system is just going to displace all the technology that they have put in place,” he asserted.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, who was at the media briefing, said every contract should have a termination clause, thus government would sit down with the two platforms once UNIPASS is in place.
He disclosed that when UNIPASS comes on board, GCNet and West Blue will cease to work on the projects as their work would be done by UNIPASS.
“I would have expected the freight forwarders to come to me to address any concerns they might have”, he added.