Flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama has described as a “political gimmick” the decision of government to suspend the implementation of sections of the Customs Amendment Act, 2020, which bars the importation of vehicles more than ten years into the country.
The law, which was passed in March, this year, has become a subject of political banter between the opposition and the government with the former promising to scrap that section as a way to safeguard the local automotive industry.
It argued that the local industry largely depends on the importation of the affected category of cars parts to service existing ones in the country, adding that thousands of artisans would be rendered jobless overtime if the law was implemented.
Government in its defence stated that the Act was to boost the manufacturing of vehicles in line with the Ghana Automotive Development Policy assuring that jobs would not be lost.
German car-maker, Volkswagen, has since started manufacturing some of its models in the country.
The implementation of the law, however, has since been suspended, the Tema Regional Chairman of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Alex Asiamah, said a suspension of the Act had been communicated to them.
But speaking in an interview with Woezor TV and monitored by the Ghanaian Times, the former president Mahama said the decision was politically motivated and that government could only be taken serious if it went to Parliament to repeal that section of the Act.
“It is a gimmick to say we have suspended the implementation of the law. Implementation is supposed to start in November but if they say we have suspended the implementation, when it means that we will not start in November so you vote for us so that we continue with implementation.
“What I am telling the car dealers and those who will be affected is that, it is not a matter of suspension.
Parliament is returning in October. Government should go to parliament and amend that Customs Act and take that clause out.
“That is what it must do. It is not enough to suspend the law.
If they say they have suspended the law and they have not amended it, what it means is that in future, they can implement it. What the stakeholders should insist on is that, the law should be amended and that particular clause taken out to show that it is not going to be implemented in the future,” Mr Mahama stated.
According to him, government does not mean well for the local automobile industry as a 35 per cent import duty was to be slapped on imported used vehicles in fulfilment of concessions to the firm which wished to establish here in Ghana.
This, if carried through, the former president said would put used cars beyond the budget of poor people and everybody must be forced to buy from the assembly plants.
He said government could have used its purchasing power to direct ministries, departments and agencies to buy from the car makers but to try to stifle local players to the advantage of the expatriate firm was unfortunate.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI