Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, has described as an illegal, government’s recent reduction in benchmark value of import duties.
Addressing an economic forum organised by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Thursday, he said Sections 66, 67 and 68 of the Customs Act 2015, Act 891, permits the use benchmark valuation only in exceptional cases.
According to him, any country that implements such a policy as the basis for custom goods risks being sanctioned by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
“It is illegal, the WTO frowns on it and again the WCO does not accept it,” the former Deputy Finance Minister told his audience including NDC leadership as well as former President John Mahama.
His comments are in reaction to Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia announcing a reduction in the benchmark value of import duties at all of the country’s ports effective Thursday.
Speaking at a Town Hall Meeting by the government’s Economic Management Team in Accra, he said that benchmark value of import duties had been slashed by 50 per cent while importers of vehicles will enjoy a 30 per cent reduction.
“This means, for example, if a container was previously assessed for duty at a value of $20,000, it will now be assessed from tomorrow at a value of $10,000. We expect that the higher volumes of at least 50% annually and increase customs revenue,” the Vice President, who is Head of the EMT, explained.
However, the Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam MP is questioning the reasoning behind the implementation of the policy by the Akufo-Addo government.
The real impact of the policy, per his calculation, is 5% of the import value which he said will not be that significant to the importer.
“This benchmark valuation will not affect import valuation by 50% of 30%...the impact per my calculation, will not exceed 5%,” he imagined.
Even that 5% relief will be eroded should the local currency continue to slump in value compared to other major trading currencies.