The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders is predicting revenue losses if the concerns raised by stakeholders on the inefficiencies of the UNIPASS system are not addressed.
The UNIPASS system is expected to replace the single window platform being managed by GCNet and West Blue Consult at the ports.
Some importers at the Takoradi port where the system was piloted however complained of challenges that led to delays in clearing their goods
The President of the Institute, Edward Akrong, warns that the delays associated with the piloting of the system at the Takoradi Port could cause serious problems at the Tema port if not checked before implementation.
“If these delays continue and all these issues are not resolved, it will have serious effects on revenue collection. It is what it is. Things will have to be done right. It is a very simple matter. Once things are done with speed, revenue comes in and things will flow.”
The UNIPASS/ICUMS system
The UNIPASS/ICUMS 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.
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.
The company replaces the existing service providers, the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), which has operated for nearly 17 years, and West Blue Consulting which has also operated for five years. UNIPASS is expected to address key challenges at the ports.
Rejection of UNI-PASS
Following the introduction of the system, there has been strong opposition from various stakeholders within the logistics space and other civil society organisations on the need to stick with the existing single window in order not to severely disrupt trade and revenue flows.
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, earlier this month petitioned government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNI-PASS and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the rest of the year to rake in revenue in excess of GHS10 billion for the country considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade activities.
Also, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders questioned the efficacy of system hours to the officiall outdooring of the system at the country’s ports.
Critics of the UNIPASS have also cited the presumed distortions that the new system will bring to the shipping community, especially at a time that the ports’ stakeholders were getting conversant with the Westblue Consulting and GCNet systems, coupled with the impressive gains of the paperless port reforms.Despite these concerns, the system is set for a nationwide deployment at all the frontier stations and ports of entry effective today, Tuesday, April 28, and replaces the systems operated by West Blue Consulting and the Ghana Community Service Network Limited (GCNet).