LET’S MAINTAIN THE BAN ON OVERLAND IMPORTATION OF RICE

RICE importation into Ghana is a huge business which involves a lot of foreign exchange.

It is estimated that about $600m is spent annually to import rice; and this puts a lot of strain on the country’s economy.

The amount is also regarded as one of the major causes of the swell of the import bill, as well as putting pressure on the cedi.

Fact is, the commodity is in high demand and many businessmen view the importation as lucrative and are, therefore, importing from all sources, across the world.

The government has however, realised that the rice importers are taking undue advantage of the loopholes in the system, and subsequently smuggling in rice.

To forestall this and its effect on of government revenue, a ban was placed on the importation of rice through the country’s land borders, in 2013.

The importation was restricted to the Kotoka International Airport, the Tema and the Takoradi ports.

Despite the ban, however, about 200 bags of rice are smuggled daily into the country.

What this means is that, government continues to lose huge revenue from the overland imports.

We find it amazing that, whatever measures are instituted to protect the country from revenue leakages; ways are devised by unscrupulous people to outwit them.

We recall that when the ban on overland importation was first imposed, many importers cried out loudly that their businesses would collapse, and that they cannot compete with foreigners with large amounts of cash to import through the designated ports.

The government magnanimously lifted the ban briefly to allow them to import the commodity, before placing a total ban on it, with time.

The revelation by our publication yesterday, fully justified the government’s position to ban the importation, through the land borders.

We urge the government to maintain the ban and strengthen our borders, to curtail the smuggling of the produce.

We are informed that due to the activities of the smugglers, the country is unable to determine the exact quantity of rice imports into the country. This is regrettable.

As a country, it is important that vital statistics and information on all exports and imports are kept, for proper planning and development.

Our position is that until the borders are strengthened and the loopholes plugged, the ban on the importation of rice overland, should be maintained.

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