The Ghana Community Service Network Limited (GCNet), the information technology firm that transformed port clearing in the country about 16 years ago, will shut down operations on May 15, this year.
The shutdown, which also goes for the recent entrant, West Blue Consulting, follows the full rollout of a new customs clearing system, Uni-Pass, which according to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), would centralise the processing and handling of all import and export documentations, a system known as a single window clearing system.
Uni-Pass, scheduled to start operations at the Tema Port today, is expected to replace the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAARS), which was being performed by West Blue, and the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS), jointly operated by the Customs Division of the GRA and GCNet.
The new system, another public-private partnership between the government and the Ghana Link Network Services, which has partnered with the Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea, the GRA said, would provide an unimpeded international commerce through the country’s ports.
Uni-Pass will operate the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) which is expected to process an average of 2,000 import declarations daily from the premises of the Ministry of Finance where the infrastructure has been installed, a source told the Graphic Business.
However, anxiety is building among freight forwarders and importers at the Tema Port following a directive from the GRA for agents to process vessel manifests and import declarations through the new Uni-Pass system from today.
While the freight forwarders at the port, according to the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Mr Edward Akrong, were hoping that a pilot exercise would be conducted to test the robustness of the system to accept the 2,000 average declarations a day, the acting Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, in the directive said although the existing providers would be shutting down, the GRA had given them a written notice to operate and run some of the regimes until May 15, this year.
GIFF and other freight forwarding associations, which held a meeting with the operators of the new system on Monday, April 20, 2020, called for a pilot roll-out before an eventual roll-out of the ICUMS at a later date.
However, the Graphic Business understands that officials of the new system on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 commenced the registration of freight forwarders to collate data on their companies, number of employees and tax identification numbers among other relevant information which is to facilitate a smooth operation.
The registration, some agents, however, said, had been fraught with challenges as the new system was unable to verify the Tax Identification Number (TIN) of many of the freight forwarders which would have seen some selected companies operating the various customs regimes to be used to pilot the system’s end-to-end effectiveness.