Over US$92m UNIPASS judgement debt plot uncovered

Ghana Links Network Service’s plots to get a whopping US$92.97million compensation of judgement debt from government using taxpayers’ money has been uncovered.

Government will have to cough up to US$92.97million as compensation if the UNIPASS contract is terminated in the first year of its implementation.

This was contained in the Trade Facilitation Agreement signed on March 29, 2018, between the government of Ghana, acting through Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ghana Link Services Limited.

This means that if Ghana Link begins the UNIPASS system implementation and government realises that the system is fraught with challenges and subsequently cancels the whole contract, it (government) has to cough up the US$92.97million as compensation to Ghana Link and its overseas partners CUPIA Korea.

A copy of the contract available to this Paper states: “In the event of an early termination of this agreement by government, or in the event that Ghana Link exercises its right to terminate the agreement due to material breach by government, and in the absence of any material default by the contractor of this agreement, government shall compensate the Contractor for any losses in accordance with scale of compensation as set out”.

Many believe Ghana Link is pushing to start operations even though it has no system to operate with at the various ports so it can access the US$92.97million compensation if government cancels the contract.

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The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, in a letter dated 26th February 2020 directed freight forwarders, clearing agents and other stakeholders in the country to use the UNIPASS system to clear their goods from Sunday, March 1, 2020.

However, the importers could not carry out the Senior Minister’s instructions because there was no UNIPASS system in place at the ports when they got there on Monday March 2, 2020 to clear their goods; and they therefore had to use the existing systems by GCNet and West Blue.

According to them, the directive is just a ploy to show that UNIPASS has begun operations so that if the contract is terminated with the reason that UNIPASS system is not good, then they can make a case for the US$92.97million compensation payment or judgement debt.

The importers have warned that this decision will cause serious problems for government and all stakeholders, explaining that the supposedly superior UNIPASS system is untested and therefore cannot run single window at the ports.

They have therefore asked government to withdraw the letter with immediate effect before it leads to judgement debt in future, stating: “UNIPASS is not ready, there is no system”. 

Stakeholders Concerns

President of the Ghana Institute of Freigtforwarders (GIFF), Mr. Edmund Akrong, in a separate interview with journalists said: “The UNIPASS system, it’s all a mess because we even tried the URL and it was not working – not to talk of other challenges we have had with their so-called superior system. If we do not do this right, there is going to be pure recipe for chaos, there will be a serious disruption. The government must withdraw the letter immediately, UNIPASS is not ready”.

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He quizzed: “What is broken that you would want to fix; there is absolutely no problem with the current system. You have over 10,000 to 15,000 declarants hitting your system at the same time, so there has to be serious stress-test to make sure that they can withstand all that pressure. So far, we have not seen any report to say that all these stress tests have been done”.

Many civil society groups have added their voice to that of the importers, calling on government to rescind its decision on UNIPASS until its promoters have been able to demonstrate a tested and superior system.

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