Suspend UNIPASS; It's Not An End-To-End System As Claimed - MAC

Pro-democracy group, Mass Action Committee (MAC), is beseeching government to quickly suspend the UNIPASS Ghana deal to allow for further due diligence and value for money analysis.

MAC claims the current contractual engagement is fraught with many technical and other challenges that have the propensity to give government a raw deal.

UNIPASS system is an e-Customs system introduced by the government to provides swift customs clearance, seal the leaking revenue basket and facilitate trade at the country’s ports.

The single window electronic international trade facilitation system was developed by the Customs UNIPASS International Agency (CUPIA) of South Korea. It comes to replace an older system which was run collectively by Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet) and Customs World of Dubai (formerly known as West Blue).

But the Executive Secretary of MAC, Atik Mohammed, in a statement issued today and copied to Peacefmonline.com, pointed out that; "...if government allows the UNIPASS arrangement to stand, it would be perilously gambling with our revenue mobilization efforts with a system that is not End-to- End, has no proven record of performance anywhere and more significantly, will be breeding a monopoly; which situation poses a danger to revenue generation.

"We are therefore requesting government to suspend the UNIPASS arrangement to allow further consultations and due diligence in order to avoid revenue loss to the country in this all important revenue generation undertaking," portions of the statement read.



Read the full statement below:

1. Government as part of its efforts to maximize revenue from international trade, conceived the idea of having a single window system at the country’s entry points. Giving effect and meaning to this noble and efficiency enhancing mechanism, has over the years led government to engage the services of entities like GCNet, WESTBLUE, SML and Ghana Link among others.  These bodies performed varied functions within the scope of the single window system.

2. However, upon assumption of office by the NPP government, a contract was awarded to Ghana Link to provide the UNIPASS platform that will replace the GCNET/WESTBLUE software. The resultant UNIPASS Ghana that was created from this contractual engagement, is fraught with many technical and other challenges that have the propensity to give government a raw deal. And to that extent, we in the Mass Action Committee (MAC) are demanding of government to suspend the UNIPASS Ghana deal to allow for further due diligence and value for money analysis.

TECHNICAL/SOFTWARE ISSUES

3. The UNIPASS software is far from being qualified as an End –to-End system because it does not include a manifest platform. The Manifest Module constitutes the basic and first Customs Declaration Entry Point. Absent this Manifest Module, it is impossible to process any Declaration. This defect therefore belies the claim that, the Integrated Customs Management System ICUMS is an all-in-one customs management solution. It is important to state that, this obvious deficiency with the so called UNIPASS Ghana platform, arises in large part, from how the very software was developed.

4. Contrary to the agreement to engage the original CUPIA (Customs UNIPASS International Agency) of Korea, the UNIPASS Ghana software was built by some Koreans brought in by Ghana Link on UNIPASS KOREA’s technology. Although this technology was named UNIPASS Ghana by these Koreans, it is not the original UNIPASS software built by CUPIA. Indeed, their version appears very much like a carbon copy of WESTBLUE’s Declaration Platform.

5. The UNIPASS software developed and used in Korea unlike the Ghanaian version, is a complete software with the capacity to handle the processing of all documents from Manifest Declaration to the Clearing of Goods.

6. The non-End-to-End capability of the UNIPASS system was exposed during the trials in Aflao, Tema and Takoradi. The system failed abysmally. Subsequent to this failure, Ghana lost sixty six million Ghana Cedis (GHS 66,000,000.00) in the first two days of implementation. Thus, exposing the inability of the UNIPASS system to measure up to the standards of the GCNET Platform. It is also worthy of note that, given the irredeemable tragedy that was occasioned by the inefficiency of the system during the test runs, a reluctant re-adaptation of the manual  system of clearing goods was resorted to at the Aflao Border and Takoradi Port.

7. It must be emphasized that, the decision to obtain UNIPASS was founded on the expectation that, it would be an improvement over the GCNET Platform and not worse than it. The unfortunate reverse outcome that was seen, was mainly because the system that was built on UNIPASS technology in Ghana by the Korean developers, had never been tested anywhere prior to its implementation in Ghana.


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8. Beyond the worrying technical concerns with UNIPASS Ghana, there are also fundamental issues of private monopoly over Ghana’s major revenue source. It will be recalled that, prior to the UNIPASS arrangement, there were different vendors at the port providing various solutions within the single window regime with the fee structure below:

Vendor
Fee
1.WESTBLUE -CCVR
0.28%
2. SML-External Price Verification
0.17%
3. GCNET
0.40%


Total Charges(1+2+3)
0.85%

9. However, the new contract that entitled Ghana Link to provide UNIPASS, gives it complete control of all Entry/Exit Points at a fee of 0.75% on the total C & F of all imports into the country. Meanwhile, under the erstwhile NDC administration, Ghana Link had been awarded a contract that gave them the sole responsibility of undertaking all scan activities at all Entry Points in Ghana (i.e. Tema Port, Takoradi Port, Aflao Border, Kotoka Airport among others) at a charge of 0.30% on the total C & F of all imports into the country.
This implies that, Ghana Link is now with UNIPASS earning 1.05 of all C & F on imports into the country as shown below:
Entity/Activity

Fee
UNIPASS

0.75%
Ghana Link-Scan

0.30%
Total Fee Charges by UNIPASS and Ghana Link
1.05%

10. From the foregoing, it is clear that if government allows the UNIPASS arrangement to stand, it would be perilously gambling with our revenue mobilization efforts with a system that is not End-to- End, has no proven record of performance anywhere and more significantly, will be breeding a monopoly; which situation poses a danger to revenue generation.

11. We are therefore requesting government to suspend the UNIPASS arrangement to allow further consultations and due diligence in order to avoid revenue loss to the country in this all important revenue generation undertaking.

SIGNED


Atik Mohammed
(Executive Secretary)




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