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The government will reduce benchmark import values at Ghana’s ports by 50 per cent, effective today, April 4.

The government will reduce benchmark import values at Ghana’s ports by 50 per cent, effective today, April 4.

Speaking yesterday in Accra at the Economic Management Team’s debut town hall meeting, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia further said that import values for cars will also fall by a generous margin.

“To reduce the incidence of smuggling and enhance revenue, the benchmark delivery values of imports will be reduced by 50 per cent,” he announced. “However, for vehicles, the reduction will be 30 per cent.”

Global echoes

Addressing Ghanaians in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States, on Saturday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo offered his assurance that the government would move soon to tackle high duties, a source of rising complaint by importers and other traders.

“We have realised from the studies we have done that our ports are not competitive and the import regime in our country is far too high,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“We are dealing with it, and very soon the measures that the government will roll out will become known to all of you.

“I am not talking next year, or in six months’ time: I am talking very, very soon.”

“Archaic” practice

Dr Bawumia said he found the situation at the ports worrying, and that the charges that imports attract ought not to be a percentage of the value of the goods, because this makes the cost unjustifiably high.

“Why should the cost of scanning a container, a vehicle examination fee, a network charge, et cetera be a percentage of the value of goods in the container?” he asked.

“We have a very archaic practice: when importers are unable to pay their duties, their cars and commodities are confiscated and auctioned off very cheaply, often much less than the duty owed.

“For importers, the choice is clear ‒ that there is an increasing diversion of trade away from Tema Port. And the smuggling of many items into Ghana is very tempting,” the Vice-President said.

Paperless system

Taking his turn to speak at the town hall meeting, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the introduction of the paperless ports system has reduced the cost of doing business through Tema and Takoradi.

Responding to a question about whether or not the paperless system has increased the cost of doing business at the ports, the Minister told Parliament that the initiative has unquestionably made it cheaper to do business in Ghana.

“The results [of the paperless ports system] show that the cost components of doing business at the country’s ports have reduced from seven to three ... This has subsequently reduced the total costs from GHC1,280 to GHC320,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

“This means that the paperless system reduced the cost of doing business at the ports by GHC960, representing 75 per cent savings. Hence, importers are now making savings of 75 per cent as a result of the implementation of the paperless system,” the Minister said.

Cargo hub for West Africa

Speaking at an event organised by women of the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority, the acting director of Tema Port, Sandra Opoku, said that the Tema expansion project, when completed, is expected to make it the largest cargo port in West Africa, with a capacity of 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent unit (TEU) per annum.

She said the expansion will ensure a quicker turnaround for cargo.

“Importers or even exporters, when they come to our port, we take those cargoes from our port effortlessly, so that they don’t have to stay [long] here,” Ms Opoku said. “And we don’t need their containers to be on demurrage. So, the charges at the port will be reduced and also freight charges will be reduced.”

She added: “When we know that when you bring your containers here, you bring your vessels here, there will be a short turnaround time for you, definitely the shipping lines will also look at bringing down the freight charges to Tema Port.”

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