Business News of Tuesday, 22 May 2018
An international trade expert has described the UNIPASS Trade Facilitation Tool to be deployed at the country’s ports as being among the best holistic and comprehensive systems developed to boost trade facilitation and customs management in the world.
According to him, the Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA) of South Korea, which designed and built the UNIPASS technology, has consistently been ranked among the top 10 on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Ranking on the Trading Across Borders criteria.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) has entered into a contractual agreement with Messrs Ghana Link Network Services Limited to deploy UNIPASS Customs Technology to help provide a comprehensive national single window platform in Ghana to rake in more revenue for the country.
This is aimed at enhancing trade facilitation and revenue generation at ports across the country, according to MoTI.
Speaking on the sidelines of a training programme organized by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the AGOA Forum in Accra, a trade expert noted, “The Akufo-Addo Government’s vision of rapid industrial transformation requires a more robust customs management system that will promote export trade and improve revenue collection.”
He disclosed that the two systems currently in use, being touted as ‘Single Window’ are a mere replacement of the Destination Inspection companies (DICs) with a more expensive option for Customs to carry out the same functions performed by the DICs.
He told DAILY GUIDE that the current services unfortunately do not adequately address the technological inadequacies, let alone “address the issue of rent seeking behaviour that exists in the goods clearance value chain across the continent.”
The UNIPASS Customs Technology, when implemented, would help provide a comprehensive national single window platform in Ghana to rake in more revenue for the country.
It is aimed at enhancing trade facilitation and revenue generation at ports across the country, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which has already gotten approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to engage Messrs Ghana Link Network Services Limited to deploy the technology.
The UNIPASS Technology currently serves as the e-government platform for the Republic of South Korea, which has one of the most efficiently managed economies in the world.
Although the international trade consultant refused to mention the names of the current operators of Ghana’s version of ‘Single Window,’ which is not yielding the expected results, checks at both the Finance Ministry and MoTI, revealed that GCNet and West Blue Consulting have so far only provided some form of pre-arrival certificate issuance – which was the work done by the DICs – and an electronic clearance, which has been about the same since the DICs era.
UNIPASS Customs Technology is recognized across the world widely acclaimed to be more effective and offers superior services compared to its competitors.
The UNIPASS system was ranked 5th and 4th by the World Bank in 2015 and 2016 respectively while Dubai World (an affiliate of West Blue Consulting) and GCNet were ranked 22nd and 31st; and 70th and 114th in that order.
He further explained that the Ease of Doing Business Index, which measures systems’ efficiency based on the time it takes to process export, import or transit transactions, and the number of documents involved, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of the system, is the most widely used barometer by investors and businesses to gauge efficiency of customs management and operations of a country.
He, therefore, advised officials in-charge of trade facilitation management, customs and revenue assurance to embrace the Korean technology.
The trade consultant, who has worked and advised governments in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia extensively on trade and economic matters, made a startling revelation that the current operators do not have a data warehouse, challenging DAILY GUIDE to check if that is not the case.
When pushed for clarification on the usefulness of the data warehouse, the expert stated, “To ensure maximum revenue collection and proper classification and valuation of consignment, an e-clearance management system must have a robust data warehouse, which the UNIPASS system does with its own unique customization format.”
He mentioned five components – a Single Window System, Clearance Management System, Cargo Management System, an Information Management System and Administration System – as what must be offered to Ghana.
Checks at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Agency indicates that Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea, in collaboration with the Ghana Customs, conducted feasibility studies between June and December 2015 and the outcomes are in the Master Plan prepared for the Ghana Customs Service.