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At the town hall meeting: 50 % cut on import duties…. As govt reduces benchmark value of imported goods

With effect from today the benchmark value for imports into the country has been reduced by 50 per cent, while the benchmark value for vehicles has also been reduced by 30 per cent, Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced.

The benchmark value is the predetermined cost on items based upon which import duties are calculated at the port by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

In addition, physical examination of containers at the port has been reduced to 10 per cent from 90 per cent and is expected to kickstart in June.

This forms part of the new port reforms aimed at addressing some of the fundamental challenges confronting port services and the import regime in the country.

Dr Bawumia who announced this at the maiden town hall meeting for this year organiSed by the Ministry of Information said the new reforms were in line with government’s agenda of making the country’s ports most competitive in the sub-region.

That, he said, would not only help facilitate trade but would also increase the volume of trade and boost revenue generation for the country.

“Port revenues depend on volumes, so if you don’t have trade facilitation, you will not have the volumes and if you don’t have the volumes, you don’t have the revenue and this is the thinking that is informing these reforms,” he added.  

According to Dr Bawumia, the ports remained important national assets and the country must manage it to improve trade to the benefit of all Ghanaians.

He said in line with this government has devoted considerable energy over the last two years engaging with different stakeholders. These stakeholders he said included; shippers, importers, exporters, spare part dealers – and listening to their concerns.

“What is baffling to us is that even though the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has not increaseD import duties, there are persistent complaints that duties at the ports are high,” he said.

In view of this, he said government set up a port review committee to review the competitiveness of Ghana’s port within the sub-region.

He said except Nigeria, the total marine charges and security fees charged at Tema for container handling far exceeded those of the country’s key competitors.

“Marine charges at the Tema port are three times the charges in Lome and nearly twice the charges in Abidjan.  No port in West Africa is charging the equivalent of the Ghana Maritime security fee of nearly $20,000 per a vessel entering our ports,” the Vice President said.

He said many port charges are a percentage of the value of the goods and this makes them exorbitant and hardly justifiable.

“Why should the cost of scanning a container, a vehicle examination fee and network charge be a per cent of the value of the goods on the container and why should the cost of processing the documentation covering import become a per cent of the value of the goods?”, he queried.

In view of this, Cabinet after consulting with key stakeholders had decided to implement new reforms in order to increase trade facilitation and boost revenue generation at the port.

He also disclosed that a mobile application had been developed to enable importers check the status of their consignment and also the import duties payable online and this application is accessible online.

By Cliff Ekuful

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