The Nationwide rollout of the UNIPASS has been met with serious contentions from clearing and forwarding agents in Tema.
Whereas some believe the new system has been wrongly introduced and should have been done simultaneously with GCNet, others say there was lack of education on thee UNIPASS.
At the Long Room yesterday, the aggrieved agents were seen chanting, ‘We No Go Gree, We No Go Gree’ and No GCNet-No Vote.
The Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA, has finally shut down the Ghana Community Network, GCNet and rolled out the Integrated Customs Management System, ICUMS, popularly called, UNIPASS, in a bid to block loopholes in the old system which officials say gave room to some clearing and forwarding agents to outwit the system.
UNIPASS was introduced by the government to replace the Single Window Platform of the Ghana Customs Management System, GCMS from GCNet and West Blue Consult, at the Ports.
The GRA started using the system on Tuesday, April 28 this year amidst challenges. Freight Forwarders and Clearing Agents at the Tema Port were agitated because of their inability to process documents including passing declarations to get their goods out of the Port following the introduction of the UNIPASS on June 1, 2020.
Some aggrieved agents who spoke to Ghanaianvoiceonline said it would have been prudent for the government to introduce the new system simultaneously with GCNet; explaining that most of the agents have not had the needed education to get them acquainted with the new system.
The Freight forwarders are also crying over the demurrage they will accrue due to the delay and inaccessibility in the new system.
They indicated that their expectation of having their documentation smoothly going through the system as promised by authorities did not materialize as the system keeps giving them error code in an attempt to input their information.
According to the aggrieved forwarders and agents, if the old system was running concurrently, they would have fallen on that when facing such challenges with the Unipass.
The Leader of the Indeginous Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana, Mawuli Tettey, said “we shouldn’t have waited for this thing to have come to this level.
All we were advocating was they should have run the system concurrently so that in an event that things happen the way they are happening now, we will fall on the old system and ensure it moves smoothly but right now they have shut down the old system completely and the new system is not able to carry the load”.
A freight forwarder, Listowell Lloyd Harris, said “personally we submitted a CCVR (Customs Classification and Valuation Report) last week and we have not been able to pay the duty, now what is happening is if you go to the bank to pay it tells you the CCVR is invalid, meaning that the new system is unable to understand the CCVR we have generated in the old system so it is asking us to request for a new one which will take at least a day.”
Mr Harris said requesting for a new CCVR meant loss of revenue for government, and delay for their clients among other inconveniences adding that authorities must learn from past experiences to avoid such troubles whenever they intend to introduce a new system.
Responding to the concerns of the freight forwarders, the Commissioner of Customs Division at the GRA, Col Kwadwo Damaoh (Rtd), encouraged them to make use of the system as according to him the more they practice the more they would be conversant with the new system like the old.
He further indicated that “We are aware that if you start any new thing you are likely to have one or two challenges so we concede you genuinely have some concerns that is why we have moved all the way from Accra to listen to you and find solutions to your problems.
We anticipated this and therefore we have help desks where some of our experienced officers are already positioned to listen to you, know the types of problems and help solve them”.
Colonel Damoah Retired indicated that officers have been assigned to assist them at any stage should they encounter challenges during the process.
After a closed door meeting with leadership of Customs on the challenges facing the roll out of the system, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Allan Kyeremanten, appealed for a three-day period to enable the authorities to address their challenges.
Source: Edith Atiaka-Eshun (GBC-Obonu FM)