The Times has noted with grave concern the news of a large quantity of drugs donated to Ghana for free distribution to a number of health institutions across the country, going waste at the Custom Warehouse at the Aviance Cargo Terminal at the Kotoka International Airport.
We understand, the drugs, valued at over $21,000, were donated by Direct Relief, an American non-governmental organisation to the Breast Care International in Ghana, for the treatment of a wide range of diseases including breast, prostrate and cervical cancers, heart and mental illnesses.
We are at a loss why bureaucratic bottlenecks could be allowed to frustrate the clearance of these essential drugs for the treatment of such serious diseases-taking their toll on the population; moreso, when such essential drugs are hard to come by in the country.
The drugs certainly were procured with money, by some benevolent persons through their blood and toil and we need to recognise and respect the courtesy and acts of magnanimity of the donor.
To allow these essential drugs to go waste, is certainly not in tune with our values and culture of saying “thank you” for donating to a worthy cause.
We have heard countless reports of well- meaning individuals and organisations who had undertaken fund-raising drives in other countries and procuring medical materials, drugs and other equipment for charity work in the country, only to encounter challenges in clearing them from the ports because of such institutional bottlenecks.
We are aware that some individuals and organisations sometimes, under the guise of importing such items for charity, abused the system and ended up using them for monetary gain after tax waivers had been granted them.
We do, however, believe there are genuine individuals and organisations committed to the cause of the underprivileged and the needy and who put in a lot of efforts to get these items into the country to help mother Ghana, of such frustrations.
We believe that our rules and procedures are not cast in stone and concrete, and therefore, there must be a way out of this situation.
The Times, therefore, appeals to the Ministry of Finance and other state institutions responsible for the regulation of the import and export sectors, especially those concerning tax waivers, to come clear on how to go about the procurement and importation of items meant for the poor and the needy.
With this at the back of our minds, the public will be well informed about intricacies so that we do not fall into these undesirable and embarrassing situations.
We believe that these issues usually come up partly due to lack of importer education. We, therefore think that the rules should be clearly spelt out for all to know what to do, at what times, when to do it and how to do it!
We believe, we have strong intelligence network to probe the acquisition, importation and use of these items by philanthropists and charitable organisations, so that those who really deserve tax waiver, would be granted.