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Minority Goes Wild

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…Over Investors Breaching Due Process For Gov’t Contracts

The Minority Members in Parliament has described as worrying, government’s commitment to pay 93 million dollars in case of terminating Ghana Link/UNIPASS contract whose total value over the 10 years is $40 million.

They questioned why government would go ahead to sign such a contract without recourse to due process and with a company that has no tried and tested single window system.

In March 2018, Ghana Link network Services Limited, in collaboration with Customs UNI-PASS International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea Customs Services, were through sole-sourcing contracted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to introduce UNI-PASS system at Ghana’s ports for a period of ten years at a cost of US$40m.

In the contract, government would have to cough out an amount of $93 Million that would be paid to Ghana Link and its overseas partner CUPIA Korea owning UNIPASS if the company is allowed to start operating Ghana’s National Single Window platform and asked to stop in the first year in the event of any anomaly whatsoever detected.

Despite this termination clause, caution has been thrown to the wind in ensuring that before Ghana Link and UNIPASS are allowed to start work, all uncertainties would have been cleared.

Rather, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Marfo has instructed importers to start working with UNIPASS at a time the company has demonstrated significant technological challenges that could affect its work and completely disrupt the trade facilitation structure and disrupt revenue generation.

In a press statement released, deputy Ranking Member on Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee, Yusif Sulemana said “What would have been logical will be to pay Ghana Link/UNIPASS the remaining value of their contract in the event of a unilateral termination of the contract by Ghana”.

“If it is the contention of government that this is not the logical thing to do, then on what basis are they in a letter signed by Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo proposing to pay GCNET the value of the unspent term of their contract”? he asked.

Mr. Sulemana said GCNET and West Blue system have been audited by both local and international agencies and has been acclaimed globally for its robustness and efficiency; receiving some of the highest ISO certification for this as well as several local and international awards.

He said the two companies operating Ghana’s Single window at the ports have since 2015 worked to increase government’s revenues consistently except in 2019 when government reduced benchmark values at the ports, adding that “The accumulated growth in customs revenues between 2015 and 2018 was about 76 percent i.e. rising from some GHC7.5 billion in 2015 to about GHC13.2 billion in 2018”.

“So why will our government seek to replace such companies with a sole-sourced company with no proper track record in the business and with no verifiable superior systems?” he quizzed.

Mr. Sulemana said the closest anyone can affiliate Ghana Link to port services delivery is through its subsidiary Africa Link Inspections Company Ltd (ALIC) in Sierra Leone.

Contract Fees

Mr. Sulemana asked, “why will any government replace a cheaper system that is delivering its mandate with a more expensive one that is unproven to be superior?

He said “The combined fees paid to GCNET and West Blue for their services is 0.54% of FOB. With this Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal, government of Ghana has decided, for whatever reason, to pay 0.75% of FOB.  This was after granting Ghana Link duty- and tax-free importation of their inputs (which GCNET and West Blue do not enjoy).

“Our question to President Akufo-Addo is; what specific addition is Ghana Link/UNIPASS bringing on to warrant the extra 0.21% of FOB? Why is government providing Ghana Link with inordinately higher fees for a service that is being provided at a lower cost? Ghanaians want to know why they will be paying more for this unproven system”.

Mr. Sulemana warned that the action of government will erode the gains made at the country’s ports by successive governments since the year 2000.

“Our believe is that the puppet masters pulling the strings for this transaction could only be motivated by what they stand to gain privately. Those people must be reminded that dawn is on the horizon and they will answer”, he said.

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