Osafo-Marfo & Others Plunge Ghana Into US$120 Million Debt Over GCNET/West Blue Contract Termination

The decision by the Akufo-Addo government to terminate the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) platform, has led to a legal tussle and a looming loss of some US$120 million, as compensation to the two companies hitherto managing the platform; Ghana Community Network Limited (GCNet) and West Blue.

The two companies, were effectively managing the GNSW when their contract was snatched from them before the expiry period and the job given to Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS in a politically orchestrated arrangement.

The Akufo-Addo government, through the office of the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, agreed to pay off GCNet for the unexpired period of the contract and the settlement was valued at an amount in the range of $120 million.

However, after the contract was cancelled, getting the settlement money from the government, has become a tug of war.

Meanwhile, the contract cancellation has resulted in financial constraints for GCNet, making it unable to pay compensation to workers it laid off, because of the abrogation of the contract.

The said laid-off workers, numbering a little over one hundred breadwinners, are in a fierce battle with GCNet to demand their compensation, but the company, says it is waiting for its settlement package from the government.

GCNet, still has a contract with the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) where it built, installed and manages the Department’s digital and paperless ‘E-Registrar’ platform; an electronic system that facilitates registrations.

The remaining workers of GCNet working on the ‘E-Registrar’, recently embarked on a sit-down-strike in solidarity with their former colleagues who were laid off without any form of compensation.

This strike led to a shutdown of the ‘E-Registrar’ and the RGD was simply unable to attend to clients, who had money in hand ready to pay.

Jemima Oware, the Registrar-General, had put on record that for each day the GCNet workers were on strike, the government of Ghana lost revenue between GHC300, 000 and GHC500, 000.

“All our offices since we are not working and have not been able to make payments for any of our services because our services are linked up to this electronic system…We are not able to process transactions and we were registering as many as 200 companies a day but now since last week Friday, we have absolutely nothing to do”, Mrs. Jemima Oware noted.

The disruption in government business at the RGD and accompanying revenue losses, became worrisome until the Ministry of Finance, the National Labour Commission and other stakeholders, stepped in and restored normalcy.

It still remains an uncertain situation with the potential of intensifying another wave of disturbances, because the main cause of the problem, which is the debt the government owes GCNet, is still pending and the amount unpaid.

West Blue, on the other hand, is also chasing the government for debts owed the company. The company’s lawyers, have written several letters to the government in request of the money and though the government admits it has to pay, it is not clear why the delay and when it would be paid.

The exit of both companies from the ports and their replacement by Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS, has led to several disruptions in trade facilitation.

Some key members of government that were instrumental in the cancellation of the contracts have, however, claimed the new company is doing well, but Freight forwarders, civil society groups, importers and exporters, the trading public and relevant stakeholders, have not stopped expressing their frustrations over the GNSW management under the Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS team.

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