Government has shot itself in the foot as it suffers economic losses occasioned by the unpaid settlement to the Ghana Community Network Limited (GCNet) and West Blue consulting after the two companies ports management valid contract were abrogated.
The settlement package for GCNet, reported to be an amount between $120 million to $150 million has remained unpaid after the controversial abrogation of the contract and this has not only strained the company financially but has compelled its workers to embark on a strike action at other government agencies the company was offering services that facilitate revenue generation.
While the bizarre drama is in motion, the government has also not paid West Blue Consulting huge debts owed the company after its Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) and paperless ports contract was also ended just around the same time the GCNet contract was abrogated.
Both GCNet and West Blue consulting lawyers are said to have been at the heels of the Ministry of Finance, fiercely chasing for the payments without success, albeit on the blind side of the media.
Though GCNet and government have locked horns over the unpaid settlement for a while now, the drama blew up in the media when the company’s few remaining workers laid down their tools and abandoned their offices in solidarity with their laid-off former colleagues who have not been paid their severance packages.
One of the worst-hit government agencies as a result of the strike was the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) where the Department has a partnership with GCNet to manage the digital and paperless ‘E-Registrar’ platform; an electronic system that facilitates registrations for the RGD.
The Registrar-General, Jemima Mamaa Oware, revealed that government suffered daily financial losses of an amount between GHC300, 000 and GHC500, 000 this October for the period the strike action was in force by workers of GCNet who were manning the E Registrar.
“It is a sad day for the RGD and all our offices since we are not working and have not been able to make payments for any of our services because our services are linked up to this electronic system.
“We are not able to process transactions and we were registering as many as 200 companies a day but now since last week Friday, we have absolutely nothing to do”, Mrs Jemima Mamaa Oware noted
The amount, reported to be between $120 million to $150 million would be to pay off GCNet for the unexpired period of its valid contract and includes the cost of the company’s installed technological systems across the country, physical infrastructure among several other investments.
It is from that amount that GCNet would pay off its severance and redundancy packages to its workers numbering about a hundred who were laid off because of the abrupt abrogation of the ports management contract and currently at the throat of the company accusing it of human rights violations.
Though the Ministry of Finance and other relevant stakeholder bodies intervened and convinced the GCNet striking employees to resume work and the E-Registrar became operational once again, there is growing anxiety that the unpaid settlement could spark another wave of agitations and disruptions with the potential of causing revenue losses again.
Meanwhile, it is uncertain what options West Blue would employ in chasing its unpaid monies from government, especially with the diplomatic and corporate approach have fallen on deaf ears.
In other development, the ICUMS/UNIPASS system continues to face challenges, as imported goods take many days to clear at the ports coupled with undervaluation and misinvoicing. Many top officials are said to have also taken advantage of the weakness of the system at the ports to dodge duties on their imported cars, among others. This is amidst claims by some officials of GRA that revenue collected have exceeded what they collected under GCNet exactly a year ago.