The Member of Parliament of Bolgatanga Central, Mr Isaac Adongo, has questioned why the government would abandon the West Blue/GCNET system which is tried and tested for the UNIPASS/Ghana Link system.
He said in 2015, the solutions of West Blue/GCNET provided an integrated end-to-end processing platform to deliver the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW), the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) and its Trade Facilitation Single Window Platform (TFP) -components to meet ISO 9000 and 27000 certification standards.
In a statement, Mr Adongo, said the integration proved successful, resulting in government revenues consistently rising (except in 2019 when government reduced benchmark values at the ports) to the admiration of all governments.
“The data shows that customs revenue generated through the system rose from GH¢7.5 billion in 2015 to about GH¢13.2 billion in 2018. This represented an accumulated growth in customs revenues between 2015 and 2018
“Unsurprisingly, the system the two companies have put together has not had any system breaches since its inception. Indeed, the system’s robustness in the midst of expanded port operations has been remarkable as evidenced through the increased revenues delivered year-in-year-out,” he stated.
He said in spite of these outstanding performances, GCNET and West Blue whose contracts were due to expire at the end of 2023 and 2020, respectively, are paid a combined fee of 0.54 per cent of Free on Board (FOB).
“Now, after these years of sustained innovations, deliberate investments and visible improvements in the gains, the country is readying itself to throw away its best trade facilitation service providers for a company that neither has a track record nor a concrete, a defined, a professed or a self-procured system to work with.
“The government is ready to abandon the tried and tested system that the GCNet and the West Blue built for the country for something neither the government nor its promoters have been able to say makes it worth the consideration, talk less of being superior to what we already have in place. They have set in motion a clandestine move to abandon the best for the worst and turnaround and give the best’s platform to the worst to transact business,” he noted.
Where is Ghana Link/UNIPASS system
He said what was even more surprising was the fact that the government have not been able to show to Ghanaians the system that Ghana Link/UNIPASS was coming to use to execute the contract.
“The GCNET/West Blue system has been audited by both local and international agencies and has been acclaimed globally for its robustness and efficiency. The system has received some of the highest ISO certification for this as well as several local and international awards.
“West Blue for instance has won some of the most recognised national and international awards, including the World Customs Organisation’s International Best Practice Award, the National Information Technology Development e-Governance Award 2015, the Anas Aremeyaw Anas Transparency Award at the 2017 Ghana Shippers Awards and the Best Technology and Innovative Award at the 2017 Ghana Maritime and Shippers Award.
“In the case of the Ghana Link/UNIPASS, they have no proper track record in the business and no verifiable superior systems that they are ready to deploy in Ghana or that they have deployed elsewhere. And that is a challenge I am throwing to both the government and the Ghana Link/UNIPASS cohorts to show to Ghanaians their system, where and how it was deployed and the track record in superiority,” he pointed out.
The hidden agenda
He said in spite of the negative factors associated with the Ghana Link/Unipass deal, the government has still decided to replace companies that have been delivering improved services and revenues; companies that are acclaimed globally for their capacity and transparency, with a company that has been found not only to be incompetent and incapable of delivering a Single Window system, but also allegedly, very corrupt
“The only reason this can happen is when there are ulterior motives.Why will any government replace a cheaper system that is delivering its mandate with a more expensive one that is unproven to be superior?
“The combined fees paid to GCNET and West Blue for their services is 0.54 per cent of FOB. With this Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal, government of Ghana has decided, for whatever reason, to pay 0.75 per cent of FOB. This was after granting Ghana Link duty- and tax-free importation of their inputs (which GCNET and West Blue do not enjoy).
“This GCNET/Wes Blue concept is one of the only projects that each government in the Fourth Republic has built upon. This government will be the only one to depart from this. And strangely, they are doing so, so recklessly that the potential of saddling the country with substantial judgment debt couldn’t be higher,” he stated.