The Minority in Parliament has questioned government‘s motive to replace the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNET) and West Blue Consulting Limited with Ghana Link Network Services Limited and Customs UNIPAS International Agency (CUPIA)in the Ghana National Single Widow (GNSW) operations at the ports.
Additionally, the Minority has also questioned government’s reason to sole-source the operations of GCNET and West Blue to Ghana Link/UNIPAS without regard to the proper procedures, sanctity of Contract and the fact GCNET is partially owned by the State.
Mr Yusif Sulemana, Ranking Member on Trade and Industry, speaking at a press conference in Accra, criticized the government for going ahead with the Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal despite the fact that the company has been found incapable of delivering a Single Window System.
In 2000 the government initiated steps for the establishment of a system to automate its port operations. The system sought to eliminate the rigidities and inefficiencies inherent in the manual operations and by so doing improve government revenues. The government implemented the full rollout between 2002 and 2006, including establishing the GCNET.
Mr Sulemana said the GCNET is a Public-Private Partnership in which the government of Ghana through its agencies holds 35 percent.
He said in 2015, GCNET combined with West Blue was contracted to provide an integrated end-to-end processing platform to deliver the Ghana National Single Widow, Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) and its Trade Facilitation Single Window Platform (TFP)-component which meets ISO 9000 and 27000 standards.
He said since its introduction in 2015, government revenues have consistently risen except 2019 when government reduced the benchmark values at the ports. The accumulated growth in customs revenues between 2015 and 2018 was about 76 percent i.e. rising from some GH¢7.5 billion in 2015 to about GH¢13.2 billion in 2018.
For this stellar performance, GCNET and West Blue which are currently contracted till the end of 2023 and 2020, respectively, are paid a combined fee of 0.54 percent of Free on Board(FOB) i.e. taking into consideration government’s 35 percent shares in GCNET.
Mr Sulemana said the Akufo-Addo administration after assuming office in 2017 has been bent on getting rid of GCNET and West Blue and replacing them with Ghana Link/UNIPAS.
He said under the Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal the government is expected to pay 0.75 percent FOB, in addition to granting Ghana Link duty and tax free importation of their inputs, which says GCNET and West Blue did not enjoy.
“Why will any government replace a cheaper system that is delivering its mandate with a more expensive one that unproven to be superior” he queried, and expressed surprise at the conditions under which the Ghana Link/UNIPASS contract can be terminated.
He said in the event of the termination of the contract, the country would be required to pay graduated fees of $93 million to $12 million in the first to the tenth year to the company.
“The strange and worrying issue about these clauses is that Ghana is committing to pay $93 million for terminating a contract whose total value over the 10 years is $40 million” he said.