UNIPASS Issues: Osafo-Maafo Is Clean

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Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior Minister

Attempts to smear the Senior Minister, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, for the role he played in sanitizing Ghana’s Single Window operations at various ports and points of entry in the country, is not flying because he is clean.

The Senior Minister rather saved the nation from the hands of hawks within government who had vested in the Single Window activities at the ports.

The only role, per what The Inquisitor has gathered, was that he was the chairman of a Cabinet Sub-Committee that was tasked to look into the Ghana’s Single Window operations at the ports.

The introduction of UNIPASS, promoted by Ghana Link Network Services Limited and Korea Customs Division (CUPIA), to operate an end-to-end system to rake in the needed revenue for the government has sparked discomfort for certain persons.

There have een strong resistance from quarters who were comfortable with the old operators of the Single Window systems, forcing some of them to make unsubstantiated allegations against some key government persons, including the Senior Minister.

It is emerging from the corridors of power that Mr. Osafo-Maafo was roped in to look into the whole Single Window deals and fashion out ways of resolving problems associated with those operations.

He was also tasked as the Cabinet Sub-Committee chairman to look into various contracts for the companies and how to have the best thing for the country.

The Inquisitor has it that the Senior Minister was particular about why UNIPASS was coming on board and how it was going to help in raking in revenue for the government.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo took the pain to study feasibility studies report that took place under the tenure of Mr. Seth Tekper, Minister of Finance, under the John Mahama administration.

It was based on the work that had been done previously on UNIPASS that made the Senior Minister to take certain crucial decisions on Single Window operations in Ghana.

All Single Window companies made a kind of presentation to the government, which Mr. Osafo-Maafo was privy to and that also helped him to make certain decisions.

UNIPASS Operation 

 The feasibilities to have the UNIPASS started in 2015 years ago when Ghana and its Korean partners sold their unique idea to the government at the time.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, under the watch of Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, signed a 10-year contract with the company.

The Economic Management Team (EMT), headed by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, in the past, has had cause to put the UNIPASS takeover of Single Window operations on hold.

The whole move was to enable the establishment to have a proper understanding of the UNIPASS system and how it was going to help Ghana.

The promoters also used that decision by the EMT to tidy all weak ends and prepared very well for the takeover.

So far, thousands of Customs officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) have been trained on the new system.

Other stakeholders including banks and freight forwarders have been trained on the operations of the UNIPASS system and how it will fast-track activities at the ports.

Call On Freight Forwarders To Embrace UNIPASS System

 The president of the Chamber of Freight Forwarders and Traders, Dennis Amfo Sefa, says he expects freight forwarders to warm up to the idea of the UNIPASS single window system at the country’s ports.

Just like how the Ghana Community Network System (GcNet) took over the country’s ports in 2002, Mr. Sefa said the UNIPASS system should be allowed time to develop.

It took about two years for GcNet and West Blue Consulting, the two companies that were initially operating the single window system, to integrate and work cohesively.

“We were all over the place. We did not understand why the government wanted to change the system that we had [at the time to GcNet] because it was perfect and it was working. We were also complaining that we had not been trained,” he recalled on Citi TV‘s The Point of View.

 “So it takes time. There is no way freight forwarders will embrace change without friction.”

GcNet eventually trained over 100 companies at the time it rolled out its system.

Mr. Sefa noted that the old systems also faced similar challenges.

“We resisted GcNet. We resisted West Blue, but today we are saying GcNet and West Blue are okay. So with time, we will get there. You will see that in two, three or four years’ time, we will come back here and say that UNIPASS is the best.”

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