The Ghana Revenue Authority says it is in talks with the Ghana Community Network System (GCNet) to re-establish its operational systems at the various ports in the country due to challenges the roll-out of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), otherwise known as UNIPASS, encountered at the ports.
Government introduced UNIPASS to replace the single window platform – Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) – from GCNet and West Blue Consult at the ports.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on Monday, April 27, 2020, began using the newly Integrated Customs Management System, UNIPASS, at the Tema Port and other entry points.
However, the system was halted due to the challenges it faced.
GRA in a statement signed by its Acting Commissioner General, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah indicated that while the challenges with UNIPASS are being fixed, talks with GCNet are in an advanced stage for GCNet to restore their system.
“It has come to the notice of the Management of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) that Customs House Agents/declarants are facing some challenges processing their Customs documents on the Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS). Management of GRA as part of efforts to resolve these challenges is having consultations with the management of GCNet for the restoration of the GCNet GCMS services,” part of the statement reads
“The discussions are almost concluded and Management is hopeful that the GCNet GCMS will be operational by Wednesday, 29 April 2020,” GRA added in the letter,” the statement stated.
The UNIPASS/ICUMS system
The UNIPASS/ICUMS platform is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window: a departure from the previous system where valuation and classification and risk management and payment were handled by different entities.
CUPIA Korea, which is assisting the Customs Division to implement the UNIPASS system, has described it as an enhanced single window system for trade facilitation.
The company which is expected to address key challenges at the ports also replaces the existing service providers, the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), which has operated for nearly 17 years, and West Blue Consulting.
Rejection of UNIPASS
Following the introduction of the system, there has been strong opposition from various stakeholders within the logistics space and other civil society organisations on the need to stick with the existing single window in order not to severely disrupt trade and revenue flows.
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, earlier this month petitioned government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNI-PASS and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year to rake in revenue in excess of GHS10 billion for the country considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade activities.
Also, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders questioned the efficacy of system hours to the officially outdooring of the system at the country’s ports.
Critics of the UNIPASS have also cited the presumed distortions that the new system will bring to the shipping community; a claim rejected by the managers of the platform.
Story by: Nicholas Brown | universnewsroom.com with additional information from citinewsroom.com