Ernest Addo writes
The chickens are beginning to come home to roost over the controversy surrounding the UNIPASS National Single Window, following news that Cabinet has approved the implementation of the UNIPASS Trade Facilitation & Customs Management System.
But, in the wake of the dust being raised by former handlers of the project, Ghana Link, which together with Customs UNIPASS International Agency (CUPIA), an Agency of the Korea Customs Service (KCS) would be implementing the project sometime this year, have spiritedly parried allegations that it cloned an existing software.
“Ghana Link has not launched any new system. It was the Government Technical Implementation Committee that invited us to do a presentation of the entire proposed UNIPASS system to them together with our technical partners; CUPIA. This we did and they were very satisfied. They subsequently requested that we start the transition process from the 1st of January 2019, as the agreement between the government of Ghana and Westblue was ending by the 31st of December 2018.We were also asked to assist, which we obliged so where from the allegation that we have cloned a software?” a Ghana Link management member we cloak with anonymity told this paper in an interview over the weekend.
He said GRA and Customs know UNIPASS more than anybody so Ghana Link could not have provided a duplicate of a system government was already doing away with when it had paid millions of dollars to purchase the software and hardware to implement the project.
New Crusading GUIDE gathered that after the transition process of the UNIPASS system, which was originally scheduled to start on January 1, 2019, was suspended by the Economic Management Team (EMT), Officials from the government technical transition team (including officials from the MOF, & GRA- Customs Division) have visited CUPIA in South Korea, the owners of the UNIPASS system to see at first hand the UNIPASS system as it operates in Korea and how it has impacted on the economic growth of Korea.
Also, this paper learnt that before the contract was approved, a six month feasibility study was conducted by CUPIA in 2015 with a report on the “Modernisation of Ghana Customs” using the UNIPASS system being produced and presented to the government.
In the process, however training was provided to some senior customs officials in Korea on the UNIPASS system before a green-light was given for the project.
Ghana Link with its overseas partners, CUPIA Korea Customs Service will provide the trade facilitation and Customs Management System at a 0.75 per cent fee (FOB) per their contract with the Ministry of Trade.
The figure, according industry experts is way cheaper than what the existing three vendors, External Verification, West Blue GCNet are currently receiving as a fee.
Currently, West Blue Consulting earns 0.28 CIF which is equal to 0.32 FoB, External Verification earns 0.1 CIF-equivalent of 0.16 FoB, whilst GCNet earns 0.40FoB. Put all three existing vendors providing single window operations in Ghana together and they are taking 0.84 FoB which is way above UNIPASS’0.75 FoB and saving government 0.9FoB.
On August 4, 2015, West Blue entered into an agreement with the government to provide a single window government as part of efforts to integrate the systems of service providers at the country’s ports and facilitate the clearing of goods without voluminous paperwork and reduce transactional time.
The contract was to expire in 31st December 2018 after which West Blue would hand over the system to the government of Ghana which they reportedly have done.
“Ignore West Blue, they always lose. Just last month we won a Court case against them but the most important thing is that Ghana Link would not clone a rejected system,” a staff of Ghana Link told this paper.
In March 2018, however, the government of Ghana through the MOTI signed a 10 year sole sourced contract with Ghana Link Network Services Ltd for the “implementation of a trade facilitation and customs management system” for Ghana. Ghana Link Network Services Ltd. with its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea Customs Service, would oversee to the implementation of the UNIPASS Trade Facilitation & Customs Management System.
The UNIPASS system is currently being used in several other countries including South Korea.
It is well acknowledged by the WTO, WCO, WORLD BANK, amongst others; as one of best customs systems in the world.
Amongst its awards & international acknowledgements include:
International Awards: WCO Innovation Award: Awarded to Ecuador’s e-Customs system ECUAPAS
WCO IT forum (2013, Argentina), Asian MAKE Award, World Knowledge Forum, Airport Service Quality Awards, Airports Council International, BSC Hall of Fame Award
Awarded to KCS, the Palladium Group, E-Asia Award, AFACT, Intellectual Property Rights Award, WCO
WCO News Issue No.79
UNI-PASS is introduced as Korea’s Customs modernization tool and it was also mentioned that it has been established in over 10 countries so as to share the experience and know-how of Korea Customs Service.
WCO Customs Risk Management Compendium Volume 1
Published the Integrated Risk Management System of UNI-PASS as a best practice.
WCO News 2011
Published an article about the cargo management system of UNI-PASS resulting in 2.7 billion USD in economic effect.
WCO Technology Network*
UNI-PASS is introduced as one of the customs clearance systems which provides a total customs administration solution and is customizable to fit any environment.
WTO Trade Policy Review
It was introduced that the UNI-PASS e-clearance scheme, the world’s first 100% electronic clearance portal system has been exported to several countries.
Doha Development Agenda
The WTO Doha Development Agenda reflected practices of UNI-PASS’ Single Window of Korea into the agreement on December 7, 2013.
Reform by Numbers*
Published the “Measuring the Effects of the Republic of Korea’s Single Window System” as Best Practice.
Introduced UNI-PASS as a 100% electronic clearance system reducing the processing time for exports from 11 days to 8 days and imports from 10 days to 8 days.
Doing Business (Trading Across Boarders)*
Ranked No. 1 in trading across borders among largest nations for 3years (3rd place overall)
Tanzania Revenue Authority*
Self-evaluation after implementation of the e-Customs System (TANCIS)
Increased user friendliness due to revenue increase and reduced clearance time, since the implementation of the system in December 2013
*World Economic Forum*
Davos Forum (Enabling Trade: Enabling Smart Borders)*
Categorized KCS UNI-PASS and the Single Window System as phase 3 of WEF’s Enabling Smart Borders
Inter-American Development Bank*
Virtual Courses on Integration and Trade
Introduced strong point of KCS Single Window as an integrated platform that connects clearance-related agencies and organizations (10th Edition IDB Open Online course)
- *Best agency for anti-corruption policy
Airports Council International*
Excellent agency for integrity*
WCO IT forum in Argentina
Commendation for contribution to the nation’s anti-corruption*
President of Korea
Commendation for contributions to innovation in national logistics service and improvement of administrative productivity through UNI-PASS*
President of Korea.