Ghana in danger zone as Sierra Leone sacks Ghana Link over single window flop and revenue loss

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It has become evident that Ghana’s revenue generation at the ports and trade facilitation achievements are in grave danger of a major disruption in an election year as Ghana Link, the company contracted to operate the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) has a horrible track record of an inability to develop and operate single window systems was recently kicked out of Sierra Leone for failure to set up, develop and operate a single-window system in that country.

The Government of Sierra Leone has terminated a 2012 contract it awarded Ghana Link/ALIC to develop and operate a single-window system for the country after years of continuous failure and huge revenue losses but the danger is that Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo and some key individuals within the Nana Akufo-Addo government are promoting the same company to take over the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) with a system that has not been tried and tested.

The Government of Sierra Leone has even frozen the accounts of the company and reports of technical and financial audits of the company were scary as the indicted Ghana Link/ALIC of tax evasion and causing revenue losses.

Africa Link Inspection Company (ALIC), a company that is owned 100 per cent by Nick Danso’s Ghana Link, that was used in actually fronting the Single Window job in Sierra Leone has been indicted of tax evasion and causing revenue loss to the Government of Sierra Leone for years since the company was awarded a contract to, among other things, develop and operate a Single Window system in that country.

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It was just in January 2020 that the Government of Sierra Leone terminated the contract it had with Ghana Link, but back home in Ghana, the same Ghana Link says it is introducing a superior single window system called UNIPASS to take over Ghana’s ports and indeed it has the blessings of Yaw Osafo Marfo although the supposed superior single window system has not been tried and tested successfully anywhere in the country.

Government, speaking through Deputy Finance Minister Kweku Kwarteng has also put on record that no matter the levels of stakeholder agitation and cautions from experts and technical partners, the Nana Addo government would go ahead with the Ghana Link/UNIPASS contract at all cost.
Termination Details

Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister, Professor David J. Francis, in a letter written on January 30, 2020, and addressed to the country’s Minister of Trade and Industry said the Ghana Link/ ALIC contract should be terminated.

The letter, among other things, said:

“As part of the inspection Agreement, ALIC was to develop the single window concept. This TradeNet messaging software allows End Users, Declarants, Ministries, Departments and Agencies to exchange data to and from the system. This aspect of the agreement was not complied with or implemented by ALIC

“ALIC had not been fully complying with section 4.3 of the agreement in respect of training programmes dealing with local and overseas training courses in the areas of computerised Risk Management System, Transaction Price data and other areas of inspection”

“There is no evidence that the company has paid corporation tax to the Government. A recent tax audit conducted by the National Revenue Authority (NRA) reveals that the company tax liability is about Le45 billion”.

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EMT Silent

Stakeholders, Civil Society and technical experts have all warned that the ten-year sole-sourced contract Ghana’s Trade Ministry signed with Ghana Link/UNIPASS would cause problems for the country but for very inexplicable reasons, the Economic Management Team (EMT) seems not bothered by the obvious looming economic suicide.

The contract itself was originally signed on the blind side of Cabinet and Parliament and was signed at a time no one on government has seen or tried and tested the supposed superior system Ghana Link/UNIPASS was to deploy at the ports.

IMANI Raise Red Flags

Policy and advocacy think tank, IMANI, has been consistent in blowing the whistle on the anomalies contained in the Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal.

IMANI’s recent statement on the issue said “It is important to note that Ghana’s Trade and Finance Ministers and their deputies continue to make the case for Ghana Link to replace existing systems that are working perfectly fine on the basis of Ghana Link’s superiority in implementing the two functions mentioned and promised in Sierra Leone, but which, evidently has failed for six years, eventually leading to termination of its agreement.

“They were meant to develop a single window and this is yet to be implemented after Six years. This could only mean one thing- that Ghana Link did not have the capacity to simultaneously implement the components they signed up to. I have attached copies of letters from Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister and Solicitor-General to this letter…. With the exception of the EMT, that has taken steps to mediate between competing vendors and the two ministries, the two ministries have disregarded the EMT’s directives on ensuring live demonstrations to ascertain UNI-PASS’ superiority. The Senior Minister’s office has compounded the confusion by issuing counter directives to Ghana Link to proceed with implementation.”

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