The Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA, has debunked claims by IMANI Africa that the country’s ports have been changed back to the pre-2002 manual systems as shipping lines, freight forwarders and clearing agents, are now being requested to provide photocopies of documents previously used to clear goods.
According to them, “It is not the case that port operations have reverted to the pre-2002 manual system. All transactions from 1st June 2020 are being processed through Ghana Revenue Authority’s new Integrated Customs Management Systems, ICUMS, also known as UNIPASS.”
A statement issued by the Ghana Revenue Authority explained that, “The manual process was resorted to for addressing transactions that commenced in the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) and Ghana Community Network system, GCMS/GCNET, but had not been cleared before June 1, 2020. This mitigation strategy was needed because GCNET did not provide data for those transactions in the right format.”
They also dismissed the claim that, the ICUMS/UNIPASS system has no pricing data against which they could determine current prices and respective taxes that must be paid to the state.
“It is inaccurate to state that ICUMS has no established values for customs valuation. GRA valuation methods are based on section 67 of the Customs Act 2015, Act 891, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) valuation protocols. Over time, GRA has built a Transactional Pricing Database that serves as a reference for valuation. ICUMS has the Transactional Pricing Database fully integrated into its system,” they statement noted.
IMANI Africa in an earlier statement also stated that ICUMS/ UNIPASS does not have data on cars coming from Japan for instance. Which is why a vehicle that cost Ghs12, 000 to clear on the GCNET/West Blue platform now clears for GHs 6,000 on a very manual UNIPASS.
It also said “when UNIPASS attempts to use its quack electronic platform, a 2016 model Chevrolet could be processed for Ghs 14. Yes, you read right, Ghs 14″.
But the GRA explains that, “Customs continuously acquires Home Delivery Values Database from the National Automobile Dealers Association (of USA) and other accredited international dealers. The Home Delivery Values database contains information and values of vehicles, and also has details of vehicles manufactured from Asia.”
“ICUMS has fully integrated the Home Delivery Values Database into the process flow. The database is continuously updated as new vehicles are manufactured.”
The GRA further explains that, “In reference to the vehicle that was purportedly valued at GHs12,000.00 in GCMS/GCNET, but was valued at GHs6,000.00 in ICUMS, GRA does not have evidence of such a transaction.”
“Also, in reference to the vehicle that was valued at GHs14.00, it is a case of fraudulent activity by an agent. The agent falsely declared USD1.00 as the value for the vehicle, and claimed that he had paid the duty in GCNET and therefore used the CPC 40D23 to process the transaction. The GHs14.00 was the summation of the Ghana Shippers Authority fee of Ghs9.00 and Ministry of Trade and Industry Import Declaration Form (IDF) fee of Ghs5.00. The system detected the fraudulent transaction at the compliance stage and raised a query that very day. Till date the agent has not responded to the query,” it added.
The UNIPASS/ICUMS platform is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window. It is replacing the systems operated by West Blue Consulting and the Ghana Community Service Network Limited (GCNet).
The system took full effect fully on Monday, June 1, 2020.
But the first and subsequent days of the system’s roll-out witnessed increased agitation from freight forwarders at the Tema and Takoradi Ports, despite assurances from authorities to resolve the challenges.
Opposition to UNIPASS
Prior to its take-off, the Minority in Parliament kicked against the roll-out of new system.
According to them, there is no need to do away with GCNet and Westblue at the ports, when they have demonstrated superior ability over the years.
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, earlier this year also petitioned government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNI-PASS and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year
According to them, this is to rake in revenue in excess of GHS10 billion for the country, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade activities.