Deputy Minister in charge of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, has projected a 30 percent revenue increase at Ghana’s ports when the new Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) known as UNIPASS is fully deployed.
He is optimistic that ICUMS coming in will enable the country to achieve its single window objectives.
“UNIPASS from the word go is going to improve our revenue collection by 30 percent. The system will save the trading public as well as government more money in comparison to the combination of existing vendors GCNet and West Blue,” he said.
Speaking during an Eye on Port discussion on Implementation of ICUMS and the Future of Ghana’s Single Window Goals, Mr. Ahenkorah argued that the existing vendors in GCNet and West Blue not only defy the country’s objective of a single window, but were responsible for some revenue losses upon the assessment of government.
“Because the two systems were not configured to meet each other’s aspirations, there were loopholes that people could take advantage of, and that is a fact,” he stated.
He also cited that “a car clearance came with a CCVR from Customs that made people pay GH¢5,000 for a brand-new Range Rover.”
This, according to him, informed the need for government to introduce a tried and tested UNIPASS technology used by Korea Customs in order to achieve its trade facilitation and revenue mobilisation ambitions.
“The UNIPASS system has no challenges. This is not the first place that UNIPASS is being deployed. UNIPASS Korea can tell you that Korea has been using it for many years. Aside from that, there are about 5 other countries in Africa which are using it,” he indicated.
Why the UNIPASS System will portray the intended vision of government’s single window objectives
“You have a system today that is shortening the process. You open one front end, you do your UCR; you will do your IDF, you input your declaration; Customs come back with the duty you have to pay, you pay that duty online; and once shipping lines are paid, you can go pick up your cargo,” he said.
He also disclosed that the problem of compliance which was not fully eliminated by the existing Customs management system has been resolved by the new Integrated Customs Management System.
He appealed for the general trading public to buy into the UNIPASS system and give it time to prove its value with regard to increased trade facilitation and revenue mobilisation for the country.
“They should give it a little bit of time and test this system, so that after six months they can give their opinion,” he said.
Emmanuel Ohene, an Assistant Commissioner of Customs and Head of the Implementation team of ICUMS, on the same programme also listed some benefits the ICUMS will bring to sea trade – including improved risk management and valuation.
“Another feature you can talk about is thhat enhanced risk management now has a feedback into the ICUMS; so when an infraction is detected, a remedial measure is easily dispensed as a result. These are some of the initiatives that you did not find in the existing setup wherein we had difficulty getting infractions reported back.”
The Assistant Commissioner, who is the Sector Commander of the Accra Collection of Customs, also said the new ICUMS is more user-friendly – and that has improved the benchmarks set by the existing vendors.
“The current vendors have developed some benchmarks that are worthy of mention. But I can tell you that the process flow of ICUMS is quite straightforward. You submit your documents and there is no need for you to have a classification and valuation report. Immediately after processing of the valuation, you have an assessment.”
He continued, “Now this system has created a port community which hitherto did not exist. In this port community you have terminal operators, the ICD’s, the Shipping Lines all networked in one community where one mistake of the other can easily be detected and corrected at the level of the community”.