Ghana is on the verge of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues from the ports, as Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo secretly orders freight forwarders to ditch the existing port management and revenue tracking company for a questionable new company.
This new contract operated under the name UNI-PASS is a clear duplication of the revenue management and Single Window System already being operated by the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet) and West Blue (Customs World).
Curiously, the new system being pushed by Mr. Osafo Maafo will charge Ghanaian importers more than the existing charges by GCNET and West Blue combined.
Additionally, if the government fails to allow UNI-PASS to operate, Ghana will be forced to pay them a whopping US$93 million in compensation, Whatsup News can report.
On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Mr. Osafo Marfo wrote to the freight forwarders saying: “Please be informed that from 1st March 2020, importers will be required to clear their imports through the new customs management systems at the entry points listed in the Appendix 1 of this letter. Imports through all other points of entry shall be processed through the existing Pre-Arrival Assessment Report System (PAARS) and the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS). We will inform you about the date and time when the new system would be fully deployed and when imports would no more be processed through the PAARS and GCMS.”
The letter intercepted by Whatsup News continues: “As agreed at the meeting, system-user manuals and audio-video training materials would be dispatched to your members through your committee by close of Friday, 28th February 2020. Same would be published at the website of the Ghana Revenue Authority. This is to compliment the training that Customs has provided for your members so far.”
The catch in Mr. Osafo Marfo’s preferred deal is that the new system will be operated by a Ghanaian and Korean partnership called UNI-PASS. However, for two years now since UNI-PASS was given a “backdoor contract,” it has repeatedly failed to demonstrate that its system is superior to the GCNET.
The haste to which the Senior Minister and his supporters in the administration are pushing the UNI-PASS deal is inexplicable, given the fact that Ghanaian importers would be paying more-0.75 per cent fee (FOB), against GCNET’s 0.54 per cent charges.
UNI-PASS’ Ghanaian partner is called Ghana Link Network Limited and it is owned by one Nick Danso Adjei who is believed to be particularly close to the Jubilee House bigwigs and the Senior Minister, in what critics think is a possible kickback-ridden adventure.
Mr. Osafo Marfo wrote his latest letter a day after he had reportedly asked UNI-PASS to swerve Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia. On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Vice President Bawumia was scheduled to meeting with UNI-PASS to demonstrate their system for him. However, that meeting did not come up due to the Osafo Marfo effect.
A previous demonstration of the UNI-PASS system in Takoradi on February 21, 2020 ended in a disaster as UNI-PASS turned out to be inferior to the GCNET system, Whatsup New gathered.
According to reliable information available to Whatsup News, apart from government data held in trust by GCNET, it has also build physical infrastructure such as fibre-optic networks that several government agencies such as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS), etc., rely on.
Besides, UNI-PASS does not have its own physical infrastructure and would have to rely on the one built by GCNET.
In January 2019, the Economic Management Team (EMT) directed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to immediately suspend UNI-PASS planned rollout because they had not properly convinced the government that they can handle the port’s Single Window System.
Earlier, Mr. Osafo Maafo had written a long letter to GCNET pleading with them to vacate their contract which lasts till 2023, saying the Akufo-Addo administration was ready to compensate GCNET with US$120 million.
He went ahead to tell GCNET in the letter that the government was ready to circumvent both Parliament and the Ministry of Finance to conjure up the US$ 120 million compensation. “It is the sincere belief of the Government that the option to discontinue the contract and pay reasonable compensation to GCNET provides the best outcomes for both parties. The most obvious alternative would be for Government to seek the approvals of the Minister of Finance and also of Parliament. The outcome of the request could be anything, which could disturb the smooth and amicable transition we are looking for,” he said.
Ghana stands to lose over US$300 million in litigation because GCNET and West Blue have hinted at seeking legal redress for the plans to abrogate their contract before its expiry.