Politicians Take Over Contracts At Tema Port–Part 1
The Tema Port no doubt is one of the most difficult government institutions to deal with. It is a major source of government revenue but it is also a major beehive of corruption and revenue leakages. This twin problem of corruption and revenue leakage at the port is legendary and has attracted the attention of most presidents and yet remains unresolved and almost intractable.
The reason is simple; there is too much political interest in the activities of the port. Information reaching The Scandal indicates that some of Ghana’s top politicians are allegedly behind most of the companies and agencies that have taken over all the work at the port.
Indeed as it stands now, the customs service is very redundant at all the country’s major ports. Scanning and valuation which should be the core duty of the custom service at these ports have been taken over by private companies allegedly belonging to politicians.
Some other reports say that where the companies and or agencies are not directly owned by politicians, the private owners are strong political party people and have their apron strings tied to political parties and are major financiers of these parties.
The Ghana Port And Harbours Authority (GPHA) itself, as a government institution, is heavily politicized and suffers the usual mass political dismissals or changes with the change of every government. The authority, after every new regime gets a new head who in turn makes sure that all strategic institutions and departments in the port are manned by people who are favourable to the new regime.
Where these old institutions cannot be stopped or changed all together, additional institutions with links to the new regime are created and all or most contracts are diverted to these new ones. The companies that are critical to the work of the port are the Destination Inspection Companies (DICs), clearing agencies, the security services and the port or container management services.
As mentioned earlier, the DICs handle the scanning of all imports and do all the valuations so as to determine the import duties each importer is supposed to pay. Ironically in the last two decades, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the national democratic congress (NDC) the two political parties that have had the chance to run the affairs of Ghana have brought in new DICs at every opportunity for reasons best known to them.
During NDC one under President Rawlings and the then Vice President Mills, the NDC brought in the Gateway Services Limited and BIVAC as the first DICs to be introduced at our ports. That was when the job of inspection and valuation was first taken away from the country’s customs service and given to these private companies.
In our subsequent editions we will drop all the names of the top politicians who are allegedly behind these very first two DICs introduced by the NDC one. When the NPP took over in 2001 they also introduced two new DICs namely; Inspection Control Services (ICS) and Ghana link network services to share in the scanning and valuation of all imports at the ports. Here too, we have the names and will drop them in subsequent editions.
In 2010 under NDC two, when the late President Mills was In-Charge of the reins of government, his government introduced yet another DIC namely; Wenfonten, bringing the total number of DICs for a small country like Ghana to five (5). Nigeria with over 150 million people and annual imports that are four times larger than Ghana’s imports has only three destination inspection companies (DICs).
These DICs have literally taken over the work of our customs service. so even though the impression is given that the ports are manned by the custom service, the reality is that the custom service has virtually nothing to do at the port.
It is actually the DICs and the clearing agencies that do all the work. Ironically the DICs employ the services of retired and serving customs officers to work for them. The whole world is categorized into five zones and allocated to each DIC and they handle imports coming from their respective zones for a processing fee of one per cent on all import duties.
Indeed Scandal investigations show that only 82 per cent of the one per cent goes to the DIC but we are yet to find out who benefits from the remaining 18 per cent.
The same can be said of the clearing agencies especially the big ones that handle large volumes of imports. They allegedly belong to politicians or their owners are undercover political party financiers and therefore untouchable.
Now here is the crux of the matter: when imports arrive at the port it is the port services companies (also allegedly linked to political parties) that handle the containers. Then clearing agencies are appointed to clear the goods. These clearing agencies approach the DICs whose duty is to scan the imports and value them to determine the import duties to be paid by the importer. The DICs prepare what is called the Final Classification And Valuation Report (FCVR) that is like the final invoice for payment. This is where the problem of corruption and revenue leakages begins.
Next week, we will continue with this story of how companies, allegedly belonging to politicians, are responsible for all the graft at our port and why it seems nothing can be done about it. It looks like another case of ‘create, loot and share’. The tears that the polticians shed about revenue leakages at our ports are nothing but crocodile tears. Look out for the continuation next week. Don’t miss THE SCANDAL.
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