Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo

It is now clear that the government is going ahead with the implementation of what its calls the new end to end customs management systems from Korean Customs Services agency known as Universal Pass (UNIPASS).

This is because the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 in a letter, directed freight forwarders’ clearing agents and other stakeholders at the ports, to use a new customs management system put in place to clear their goods.

According to him, the letter is coming after a meeting with the leadership of the freight forwarders, officers of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Deputy Finance Minister.

“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 Appendix 1 of this letter.

“Imports through all other points of entry shall be processed through the existing Pre-Arrival Assessment Report System and Ghana Customs Management Systems,” he stated in the letter.

Read the full letter below: 

Ports letter

But the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GHIFF) said switching onto the new Customs Management System by UNIPASS will create chaos at the ports.

The President of the GHIFF, Edward Akrong, in an interview with Joy Business, warned against the implementation of the new customs management systems which he said will create problems at two major points of entry which will eventually become an extra cost to the importer and exporter.

“What is broken that you want to fix? We are not complaining about the system we have right now. What at all is new in what government is bringing that will assure me that is superior to what is currently running?

“UNIPASS will bring disruption if it is implemented. I tell you we have been to some of the training they organised. This does not make me happy at all,” he complained.

Mr Akrong added that, if the government insists on going ahead with UNIPASS, it should, rather take its time and allow for stress tests to be done on the system.

The stress test he said, should be done when about 1,000 applications from clearing agents enter the system at the same time.

He cautioned the government of the impact of the service and the cost of doing business in Ghana if this is not handled in a very professional and orderly manner for a smooth transition. 

Although a well-equipped call centre is also ready to address the concerns of users, Mr Akrong pointed out that, “I am of the view that expected revenues will take a hit if they go ahead and implement the UNIPASS the way they want it done.

“The Senior Minister must be patient and he and his team including the management of UNIPASS must not rush this in anyway or else they will have themselves to blame for the chaos which will hit the ports on Monday, March 2.”

With approximately 97% of revenue collected, administered and processed through the GCNet deployed systems in GRA DTRD and GRA Customs Division, there has been a steady increase in the country’s revenues since the integrated customs management systems were deployed.

Joy Business understands that about GHS 40m is collected daily using Ghana Customs Management Systems.

And since the ICMS was put in place in the first year of 2003, a total of 249.461 million Cedis was collected and it hit its peak of some 16.324 billion Cedis in 2018 but dropped to above 15.725 billion Cedis in 2019 due to the introduction of the benchmark values reduction by the Economic Management Team of the government due to a promise to reduce taxes.

Source: | Joy Business | Norvan Acquah-Hayford