Ghana Can’t Meet Deadline For ECOWAS Tariff

Ghana may not be able to meet the January 1, 2015 deadline for the introduction of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET).

SONY DSCThe Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, who gave the hint said, “We may not be able to meet the deadline on account of the final stages which requires under our constitution parliamentary approval on specific sections of the tariffs”.

He was speaking at a meeting to finalise the adoption of the ECOWAS CET held in Accra on Thursday which brought ministers of finance and director-generals of Customs of Ecowas member states together.

The purpose of the pre-ministerial meeting was to conclude arrangements at the experts’ level, brief the finance ministers on the preparations towards the implementation of the instrument and the official launch of CET by January 1, 2015.

The ECOWAS-CET which was adopted in 2006 by the ECOWAS heads of state and government is a flat rate tariff on all shipments within the West African sub-region.

It would be a vehicle which would be used to achieve a Customs union that will promote the creation of a common market in West Africa and make goods from ECOWAS countries cheaper and affordable.

Mr. Terkper who opened the meeting said cabinet has already given approval and it was also captured in the 2015 Budget Statement, however what might delay its passage before next year would be the Attorney-General’s Department and Parliament.

He, therefore, urged parliament to quicken its passage into force when it is presented to the house to ensure smooth take-off of the tariff next year.

Mr. Terkper reiterated government’s commitment towards the ECOWAS CET and stressed the country was on course to speedily expedite action on the passage into law of the new tariff.

He explained that government engaged consultants to conduct impact assessment of CET on various sectors of the Ghanaian economy.

Additionally, a CET implementation committee comprising members from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Finance Ministry, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Communications Ministry was established and they drafted a memorandum which was sent to cabinet and very soon would be presented to parliament.

Mr. Terkper added that the final stage of the roadmap for the country is a nationwide sensitisation and education which is currently underway and has received sponsorship from the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ).

He noted the importance of CET would not only improve customs revenues but would also serve as an instrument to protect specific sectors of the general economy of member states.

Additionally, it would also ensure stability of the fiscal system in member countries and serve as an important step towards achieving vision 2020 and the overall ECOWAS integration agenda.

Mr. Ruediger John, the German Ambassador to Ghana called for closer collaboration among all stakeholders in the sub-region to ensure the smooth implementation of CET.

He also called for more education and sensitisation on the new CET on member states to ensure the masses fully understand the new tariff regime.

By Joseph Edu Archison

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