Tension brews as Senior Minister directs GCNet, West Blue to handover to UNIPASS

Tension brews as Senior Minister directs GCNet, West Blue to handover to UNIPASS

Ghana’s ease of doing business and trade facilitation rankings may take a hit as the government prepares to abrogate a trade facilitation agreement involving Ghana Community Network Service Limited (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting, replacing it with a new deal with Universal Pass (UNI-PASS).

Even though reports suggest that UNIPASS has failed on many occasions to demonstrate its systems to the government, GCNet and West Blue have been directed to prepare to handover.

Government’s move to replace the two vendors with one that can provide an end to end customs management system has brought about some tension at the ports as stakeholders like Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters and clearing agents are raising questions.

Even though GCNet’s contract ends in 2023 while the West Blue contract expires at the end of this year, the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has gone ahead in a letter sighted by Joy Business to ask the two firms to submit terms of transition.

In the said letter the Senior Minister wrote, “In a confirmation letter dated 5th of December 2018, government respectfully requested you to submit for discussion the terms of transition. We note that your firm is yet to submit the terms of transition you will find satisfactory.”

“In view of this government would be making payment that takes into account the unspent years of your contract and also ensures the best value of the public money,” the letter stated.

Yaw Osafo Maafo

- Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo

He stated that it is his sincere belief that the option to discontinue the contract and pay reasonable compensation provides the best outcomes for the parties – suggesting that the government was willing and ready to pay off West Blue and GCNet.

Meanwhile, Joy Business can report that GCNet and West Blue will not hesitate to head to court to demand a judgment debt of over $200 million if any attempt is made to handing over their operations and other third-party operations to UNI-PASS without recourse to the law.

But in a similar way, if UNIPASS is denied the opportunity to roll-out, the government will have to pay some $92 million as compensation for their ten-year contract signed with the government.

Stakeholders at the port have for some time now questioned the actions of the government in what they say was analogous to the saying in Ghanaian local parlance that translates as, “when is not broken, you don’t fix it.”

This is because any of these stakeholders interviewed by Joy Business have said for now there is no problem with the trade facilitation management system at the ports.

What is even more interesting is that Joy News sources close to the deal have said there was no show in Takoradi beginning last week until now when the preferred customs management system manager UNIPASS was expected to have a pilot at the seaport and its container terminals.

Joy Business is also informed that due to the challenges and allegations that UNIPASS has no system, the Economic Management Team led by Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, has requested that UNIPASS appear before the team with a presentation on the end to end customs management system they have.

Something that is yet to be done.