The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has assured freight forwarders it will resolve all concerns occasioned by the implementation of the new clearing system at the ports by UNIPASS.
The first day of the system’s roll-out witnessed increased agitation from freight forwarders at the Tema and Takoradi Ports, as they complained of possible increase in demurrage, the fees paid to shipping lines when goods beat their clearing deadlines.
Ghana Link, operators of UNIPASS, deployed some technical staff to address the concerns on Monday, but the freight forwarders resisted the slow pace of activity.
The Commissioner of Customs, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah, however gave assurance that his outfit will address all the problems as soon as possible.
“Depending on the nature of the problem that you have, there will be somebody there. A dedicated officer who will have the patience and skills to listen to you and offer the appropriate solution to your challenges. What we need of you is to remain calm, let us know the nature and type of challenge that you have and then we will channel it to the right persons to help you out. We are not happy that you here unable to perform your duties, it is in my interest and yours to make sure that things work so that you will work and the flow will continue,” he said.
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.
It is replacing the systems operated by West Blue Consulting and the Ghana Community Service Network Limited (GCNet).
The system which will see all new transactions in respect to import and export processed only through the Ghana Revenue Authority’s new Integrated Customs Management Systems, took full effect on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Prior to the piloting of the new system and full implementation, many stakeholders within the logistics chain were dissatisfied with the service.
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, last 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 official outdooring of the system at the country’s ports.
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders has also predicted revenue losses if the concerns raised by stakeholders on the inefficiencies of the UNIPASS system are not addressed.