The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) has indicated that it’s planning to deploy a new trade facilitation tool – UNIPASS Customs Technology – to help provide a comprehensive national single window platform in Ghana to rake in more revenue for the country.
This is aimed at enhancing trade facilitation and revenue generation at ports across the country, according to MoTI, which has already sought approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to engage Messrs Ghana Link Network Services Limited to have the technology deployed.
UNIPASS, South Korean Customs Management System, is acclaimed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the best Customs Trade Facilitation Tool, and it offers a holistic system that ensures a true paperless working environment, revenue assurance, safety and security.
The services are believed to be carried out by two firms in Ghana – Westblue Consulting and GCNet Services – which are said not to be giving adequate results.
It is believed that Ghana Link Services Limited and its technical partner, Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA), Korea, did feasibility studies between June and December 2015 on the current state of affairs of Ghana’s trade challenges and recommended appropriate solutions and systems for enhanced trade facilitation and revenue generation efficiency.
The outcome of the feasibility studies, this paper gathered, included among other things, that Ghana should implement electronic submission system of manifest for utilization of cargo information and implement cargo processing status tracking based on cargo reference number.
“The single window system is a solution that is essential, rational and intuitive to achieve trade facilitation. It is the most rational solution that provides for connectivity and interoperability to Cross-border Regulatory Agencies and trade-related stakeholders. It is intuitively understandable and not difficult to develop. The only thing you need is to achieve cooperation with your stakeholders,” the company stated.
The new system, when deployed, is expected to offer Ghana access to its comprehensive world acclaimed data warehouse for deployment.
This paper understands that it will also be integrated into the cargo scanning systems at all entry and exit points and will effectively end the perennial fuel smuggling and provide better and effective control of transit.
“Apart from government agencies and other private agencies with interest in trade, the system also connects traders whose business activities are monitored. Currently, it has connected more than 430,000 entities, and more than 40 government agencies in Korea,” according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“The system processes and clears more than 430 million declarations a year (about 1.2 million declarations a day compared to Ghana which is about five hundred thousand (500,000) declarations a year) and more than 50 million passengers a year,” it added.
Better Than Existing Applications
When compared to Westblue Consulting and GCNet, the ministry indicated that the UNIPASS system is said to be far better in ensuring trade facilitation.
The ministry stated that Ghana currently is not operating a functional single window platform, saying, “The current system being proclaimed as a single window is a replacement of the Destination Inspection (DI) companies with a more expensive option for customs to carry out the same functions done by the DI companies at about twice the price of any DI company, with far less overhead costs since customs provide hardware and labour for the price verification and classification services.
“The current two players in the system, GCNet and Westblue Consulting, have so far only provided some form of pre-arrival certificate issuance which was the work done by the DI companies, and an electronic clearance which has been about the same since the DI era.
“However, the current services provided do not adequately address the technological inadequacies, let alone address the issue of rent seeking behaviour that exists in the goods clearance value chain.”
According to the ministry, implementing the UNIPASS will mean that the government of Ghana will take total control of both security and revenue management at the borders, as well as monitor the administrative performance of its employees.
The UNIPASS, currently serves as the e-government platform for the Republic of South Korea, and it is also believed to be in use in Tanzania and other countries, enjoying WTO support.
Ghana Link Network Services Limited and CUPIA, owners of the UNIPASS technology, have according to the trade ministry, “been selected in view of the innovative features it brings into the processes of our trade facilitation and revenue mobilization programmes.”
The ministry indicated in its letter to the PPA that “with the UNIPASS technology, the single window system is only a sub-camp agent. It has five main components namely, a single window system; a clearance management system; a cargo management system; an information management system and administration system.
“The solution provides for an entire e-customs management system capable of delivering the required functionalities and security to increase customs revenue for government as well as enhance our trading across borders.”
This paper understands that the government of Ghana would not make any upfront investment on the UNIPASS system, as the ministry had indicated that “as per the MoU between Ghana Link Network Services and CUPIA, Ghana Link will acquire the technology at its own cost for deployment by the Ghana Revenue Authority.”
It continued, “Ghana Link and its technical partners would be responsible for training and implementation and will have clear time lines for technology transfer. The initial contract implementation period shall be 10 years renewable.”