The cancellation of the contract has led to an excess of GHC 196 Million judgment debt which could escalate into over GHC 1 Billion.
What Bankswitch was all about?
Under Rawlings-led NDC government, a company GCNET was introduced to replace a cumbsersome manual clearance at the Ports which was prone to corruption with a fast, electronic system.
Despite the efforts of GCNET to help fastrack the process of clearing goods and block revenue collection loopholes, there was still huge revenue losses at the ports.
“But the [GCNET] system had challenges. It was still being manipulated. It is just like you dump waste in an incinerator. The data is still there, it is being manipulated [by importers] instead of paying [say] GHC 100,000 they end up paying GHC 5,000.”
The Bankswitch contract was to deepen efforts to block loopholes within the revenue collection system at the ports. According to Kudzo Akpabey who is also a Revenue consultant, these losses amounts to about a staggering $80 Billion every year.
Under President Kufour, a new I.T solutions company, Bankswitch, proposed a software known as the Ghana Customs Management Secure System. The new software was to work alongside GCNET.
It was signed in 2007 by Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance Dr. Akoto Osei.
President Mills’ intervention
In 2008, the NPP lost the elections, ushering in the return of the NDC in 2009.
“[NDC]They were dragging their feet with Bankswitch" because it was not convinced about the service Bankswitch was to provide, he said.
"At a point, the late President Mills was so wise, he called a meeting [with Bankswitch] at the Castle" to cure a new government’s skepticism about the services it was to provide,
In attendance were the Minister of Finance, Kwabena Duffour and Minister of Trade, Hanna Tetteh along with government officials from the Ghana Revenue Authority and GCNET.
According to him, at the Friday meeting, Bankswitch demonstrated its operations to the understanding of President Mills. The Preisdent gave the company three months to determine how it would be effective on the job.
The Revenue Consultant explained that on the very Friday, GCNET wrote a letter to the Finance Minister Kwabena Duffour, copied to the Secretary to President insisting they could do what Bankwsitch was contracted to do "for free”.
The Finance Minister minuted on the letter requesting the Ghana Revenue Authority to respond to GCNET’s claim. The whistleblower claims GRA’s response was that GCNET could not do the work.
But this response from GRA never got to the Finance Minister, he claimed.
“These things were hidden from the late president. In every government in this country I have seen so many things hidden from the executive president”, he is convinced.
Bankswitch was knocked out, forcing the company to go to the International Court of Arbitration where the company secured GHC 816 Million and add-ons that would bring the debt to 1 Billion Cedis.
According to Akpabey, while discussing the matter on Metro TV, President Mills’ brother Cadman called in to inform Akpabey that President Mills was watching him on TV and promised to take action.
“That very year President Mills passed away”.
So who cancelled the contract?
Akpabey says a Minister was so determined to snatch the contract from Bankswitch and eventually cancelled it without the knowledge of the president.
“There is so much politics in this country. I have to be honest and sincere with Ghanaians”, Akpabey’s frustration became self-evident.
“There were some people who caused the judgment debt. Dr. Duffour asked for a response, where was that response?
“The Bankswitch contract was for five years. If somebody had been patient we wouldn’t have run into this problem”, he stated.