Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry and Member of the Joint Inter Ministerial Committee, Hon. Carlos Ahenkrah has indicated strongly the Senior Minister and a former Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo has no interest in whoever operates the port or what pertains the operation of the UNIPASS system but is rather interested in maximizing revenue and adopting the best practices of trade facilitation at the ports.
Addressing claims by the MP for Bolga Central, Hon. Isaac Adongo who attributed complications at the Tema Port on Tuesday 28th April, 2020 to the Senior Minister, following the roll out of the New Customs Management System, the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS).
According to Carlos Ahenkrah, holding the Senior Minister responsible for what happened at the Tema Port last Tuesday would be unfortunate and a calculated attempt to malign an “honest politician who is respected by both sides of the House.”
In a statement he issued to that effect, Carlos Ahenkrah explained that the newly signed trade facilitation agreement between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and South Korea Customs UNIPASS International Agency (CUPIA)/Ghana Link was a government decision for which Cabinet set up a Joint Inter-Ministerial Oversight Committee (JIMOC) chaired by the Senior Minister to oversee the implementation of the ICUMS.
He said, the Senior Minister has diligently discharged his duties as the Chairman of the Oversight Committee to oversee successful deployment of an end-to-end Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) and that but for the Senior Minister, “we would not be where we are today with the reinstatement of calm in our clearance processes,” he said, maintaining that what happened in the port last Tuesday was indicative of a typical system deployment which had done well in other collections like the various entry points and the port of Takoradi during piloting but challenged at the final full implementation for various reasons.
Carlos Ahenkrah stated that: “Every Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system newly deployed experiences difficulties and show significant “left outs” that only needs fixing. You never get a newly introduced system from the start without any operational hitches.”
He made references to what occurred in 2002, during the beginning of GCNet and West Blue in 2015.
He averred that those problems were however surmounted with time to make the system near seamless and that the few problems identified during piloting have been successfully corrected and ready to roll out at the Tema Port.
The Deputy Minister pointed out that the challenge encountered last Tuesday was not a system challenge rather an operational challenge and “To suggest that the Senior Minister eyes the UNIPASS for his pension exposes the mindset of a befuddled ignoramus. The Senior Minister’s intervention rather calmed nerves and brokered peace and understanding amongst all stakeholders with a resultant resumption of operations at the port,” he stated.
He also mentioned that UNIPASS did some work with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in 2015, where it undertook feasibility studies on a single window operation with regards to international best practices as compared to having multiple vendors for the clearing of goods at the ports which hitherto had created a lot of congestion including goods going into demurrage, among others, stressing that the new system will enhance fast processing and quick reconciliation of documents unlike the multiple systems therefore, he finds the assertion by Hon. Isaac Adongo very unfortunate and call on the MP to withdraw and apologise to the Hon. Senior Minister.
“It would be very unfortunate if Hon. Isaac Adongo’s confusion hinges only on the occurrence of last Tuesday’s brouhaha to support his judgement of an inferior system been deployed. It has become undoubtedly clear by stakeholders that the UNIPASS system once fully deployed would ensure a considerable increase in revenue mobilization and security,” he said.
Hon Carlos Ahenkrah also said Isaac Adongo should have done little research in such matters before “spewing irresponsible statements on the economist, banker, engineer, and politician, who has diligently served in many capacities in public and in private sectors.”