Some businessmen are pleading with the government to allow persons whose documents were ready before implementing government’s policy directive on the reversal of the reduction of values of imports on 43 selected items to pay their outstanding duties.

According to these persons who were stranded at the Tema Port, many of them had duties to settle; hence, it is a surprise that the introduction of the new directive, which takes effect on January 4, is affecting the payment of their duties.

Speaking to Adom FM reporter Bella Ave, one businessman said that “no one has been able to pay their duty this morning. We tried to get to the bank and pay our outstanding duties, but the system rejected it.”

He added that “they told us that the discount the government took off and is now implementing has affected us whose documents were ready in 26th December 2021. So, we should reverse everything and add 30% to the already huge amount of duties we are paying. how will it be possible.”

He told the Adom FM reporter that with the removal of the benchmark value, their products have to stay longer at the port, which will cost them rent, among others, aside from paying the already expensive duty.

“Our plea to government is that they should allow those of us who had our duties and monies way before the implementation should allow us to pay our sutures, and those starting on the 4th and that implementation can affect them,” he said.

This comes after the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), effective Tuesday, January 4, 2022, began the implementation of government’s policy directive on the reversal of the reduction of values of imports on 43 selected items.

Though Ghana Revenue Authority has explained that this is to ensure importers or agents pay 100% duty on selected items, the scrapping of benchmark value has been greeted with opposition from some trade unions, including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).

The GRA has also indicated that a “series of engagements have been had with relevant stakeholders to reach a consensus on the implementation of the policy.”

However, GUTA has warned that any attempt to introduce this policy in the 2022 Budget will disrupt Ghana’s distribution sector. President of the Union, Dr Joseph Obeng, insists that prices of goods will increase significantly if government reverses the reduction of values of selected items if the government proceeds with the implementation.

In an earlier press statement, he added that scrapping the policy will be suicidal, saying the policy brought relief to the trading community, sanity into the system, and eased tension and agitations amid the impact of the coronavirus on cross-border trade.

Meanwhile, other businessmen and women stuck at the port stated that they are not against the government’s directive; however, it is unfair for them to be affected when their documents had been cleared in the previous year.

“Normally what we know is anytime there are new changes, we will be able to pay those duties that have been taken already. But today, we see a different thing altogether. So we are pleading, if there is anything they can do so that we pay the duties we have taken already for our clients to get their goods,” another businesswoman added.

Benchmark values

Otherwise known as the ‘benchmark values’, the reversal will affect the selected items from all the three categories on which the reversal was applied, a statement from the Authority stated.

The items to be affected include the home delivery value of vehicles, goods on which benchmark values are applied and all other goods.

This means the Home Delivery Value of vehicles will no longer be discounted by 30%.

Also, the full value shall apply without any reduction for all other goods, where the importer has an invoice for which the value is higher or lower than the established Transaction Price Database.