Ghana’s Single Window portal that houses the manifest, declaration and logistics module in the goods clearance chain at the ports, GCNet, says it has been able to process over 1,500 declarations just an hour after the company was directed to restart operations.
GCNet was ordered by the Office of the Senior Minister to handover the single window platform to UNIPASS on April 28, 2020.
However, the new system took off to a false start, leading to agitations from freight forwarders who were unable to clear their goods at the ports.
Speaking to Citi Business News, the Head of Communications and External Affairs at GCNet, Aba Lokko, said the company was able to restore operations after a directive from the government and is generating the needed revenue for the state.
“We restored our system about an hour and thirty minutes ago, and in less than an hour we had 1,500 declarations that have been put in, and they are using the platform to make payments,” she said.
She stated that the single window platform operated by GCNet and West Blue is a tested system that has served clearing agents at the ports for years.
“We thank our agents who have believed in this tried and tested system,” she stressed, adding that containers that have been locked down since the UNIPASS takeover have been cleared.
According to Madam Lokko, GCNet has also been able to process all documents needed for Oil Marketing Companies and Bulk Oil Distributors to clear their fuel from the various depots across the country.
She maintained that the company will be able to complete the backlog of goods stuck at the ports in time to improve the ease of doing business at the ports.
She however noted that government has lost revenue within the time operations for clearing goods at the ports was inactive.
She stated that time lost at the ports translates into loss of revenue since delays in clearing goods affect the flow of cash.
“Since 28th of April there was no activity in terms of declarations. So clearly revenue we would have made in the day and then the next day was lost. Definitely there is loss of revenue to the state and the service providers,” she said.
The UNIPASS/ICUMS system
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.
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 which is expected to address key challenges at the ports also replaces the existing service providers, the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), which has operated for nearly 17 years, and West Blue Consulting.
Rejection of UNIPASS
Following the introduction of the system, there has been strong opposition from various stakeholders who insist on maintaining 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 remainder 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.
Challenges with UNIPASS system could cause revenue losses
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders had predicted revenue losses if the concerns raised by stakeholders on the inefficiencies of the UNIPASS system are not addressed.