Gov’t determined to roll out UNI-PASS, says Kwaku Kwarteng       

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Kwaku Kwarteng, Deputy Minister for Finance  

Kwaku Kwarteng, a Deputy Minister of Finance, yesterday said no amount of resistance will discourage government from rolling out Universal Pass (UNI-PASS), the new electronic customs clearing system.

Korea Customs was contracted by Ghana Link Network Services Limited, in a trade facilitation agreement with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to introduce UNI-PASS, a product of Korea Customs Business wing, termed CUPIA.

Speaking in a media interview, Mr Kwarteng said the multiple service providers working at the ports are at loggerheads. The added that the situation is hampering effective collaboration, leading to massive corruption and revenue loss.

Single service provider

He said government therefore decided to replace the existing multiple service providers with a single service provider, offering an end-to-end system capable of significantly reducing leakages, undervaluation and other illegal activities.

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He was reacting to concerns raised by freight forwarders about the UNI-PASS rollout.

Edward Akrong, president of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, who admitted attending training organised on UNI-PASS, said he did not see anything different from the system being operated by existing vendors.

According to him, he has no knowledge of any piloting of UNI-PASS, saying the preparation towards the rollout was not comprehensive.

He said it was only yesterday that training for stakeholders at Elubo started.

For him, the existing systems were built overtime and should be supported to include functions that will deliver the results government expected.

But Mr Kwarteng likened the manner in which freight forwarders have attacked UNI-PASS to the behaviour of an opposition party.

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Why UNI-PASS?

He disclosed that Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta and President Nana Akufo-Addo were in South Korea to see how UNI-PASS works, and were impressed with what they saw, hence the decision to deploy it in Ghana.

According to him, several tests have been conducted for over a year, which include stress tests, saying all the tests have been successful.

The Deputy Finance Minister said simulation has been conducted at all entry points, where they met a lot of stakeholders and saw that everything was going on well.

He said technical people on the project were satisfied to the extent that they recommended a full rollout on March 1 2020. They were, however, asked to start it at limited outlets that handle less than 10 per cent of total import value.

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Mr Kwarteng said the system could not start on Monday because administrative instructions to customs officers delayed.

Making our ports attractive

He urged all stakeholders to file their complaints to the appropriate authority instead of using the media.

The Deputy Finance Minister stated that the end-to-end system developed by UNI-PASS is owned by the Government of Ghana, which means the source code will be in the possession of the country.

According to him, it makes management of unwholesome goods easier and also makes the ports attractive.

He said the contracts of some vendors have expired while others have valid contracts, expressing the hope that the ongoing negotiations will resolve matters without resulting in judgment debt.

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