The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, Ghana, (COPEC) is predicting fuel shortages across the country if the government fails to tackle challenges with the UNIPASS system.
The government on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 started using a new single window system for the clearance of goods popularly known as UNIPASS, thus shutting down the old system operated by GCNet and Westblue.
Executive Director of the Chamber, Duncan Amoah indicated in a statement that the UNIPASS system has led to some challenges with petroleum liftings across depots in the country.
“A communique issued earlier yesterday from the NPA indicating a swift response to resolve the issue to enable the liftings seemed not to have yielded as most Oil Marketing Companies and the LPGMCs had to make alternative arrangements to accommodate their drivers who had been dispatched to load products from the depots across the country.”
“Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and the Liquified Petroleum Gas Marketing Companies (LPGMCs) that had orders for supply of fuel to various outlets could not load a single litre of fuel all day on Wednesday the 29th of April due to discrepancies in the migration onto the new customs system (UNIPASS) at the depots,” portions of the statement said.
COPEC thus called for a speedy resolution of issues with the system to forestall any possible shortages of fuel.
“The seeming haste in abandoning the old system whiles the new system (UNIPASS) is not fully ready and integrated is clearly leading to discrepancies being witnessed and we wish for a speedy resolution to forestall any possible shortages across the country,” it added.
The UNIPASS/ICUMS system
The UNIPASS/ICUMS platform is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window: a departure from the previous system where valuation and classification and risk management and payment were handled by different entities.
CUPIA Korea, which is assisting the Customs Division to implement the UNIPASS system, has described it as an enhanced single window system for trade facilitation.
The company, which is expected to address key challenges at the ports also replaces the existing service providers, the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), which has operated for nearly 17 years, and West Blue Consulting.
Following the introduction of the system, Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, petitioned the government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNI-PASS and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year to rake in revenue in excess of GHS10 billion for the country considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade activities.
Also, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders questioned the efficacy of system hours to the officially outdooring of the system at the country’s ports.
Critics of the UNIPASS have also cited the presumed distortions that the new system will bring to the shipping community; a claim rejected by the managers of the platform.
Issues with UNIPASS system could cause revenue losses
Meanwhile, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders is also anticipating revenue losses if the concerns raised by stakeholders on the inefficiencies of the UNIPASS system are not addressed.
The President of the Institute, Edward Akrong, warns that the delays associated with the piloting of the system at the Takoradi Port could cause serious problems at the Tema port if not checked before implementation.
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