AGI, GEPA Cries Foul Over Reduction in Import Duties

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The bodies within the trade sector, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Ghana Exports Promotion Authority (GEPA), are kicking against reduction in import duties by government. But AGI and GEPA believe the reduction are not true reflection in duties and makes no difference, adding that, it will cripple businesses.

For Seth Twum Akwaboah, the Chief Executive Officer for the AGI, the 50% reduction in the benchmark value and a 30% slash importers of vehicles, as announced by Vice president, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, does not mean a reduction in duties.

He explained that the benchmark value which is used to calculate the value of goods, only comes into play when there is no clarity and uncertainty on the value of goods being declared.

Commenting on the aftermath of the announcement of the reduction in the benchmark value for imports by 50%, he said, “If you are declaring a certain value and it is consistent with what the Customs experts [officials] then they leave it there and you pay the appropriate duty so it is not a reduction in duty. It is only when your declaration is not consistent with what Customs have and they say they are going to use a certain benchmark.”

“This means that an importer’s value cannot be below this benchmark, he said adding “any value above it is fine but below that they will not accept it, that is what the benchmark value does, he added.”

Adding her voice to this, former CEO of GEPA, Gifty Klenam said, “we are manufacturing in this country, we are creating the jobs, so if there will be any tax reduction it should favour those who are creating the jobs in this country not somebody who is giving employment to somebody outside this country.”

Meanwhile, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has supported the reduction and dismissed concerns that the recently announced reduction in benchmark values of import duties is insignificant.

GUTA president, Dr. Joseph Obeng, said import duty reform introduced on Wednesday by the government is consistent with demands they have put before Customs countless times during negotiations.

Speaking on PM Express, a current affairs program on Joy News channel on MultiTV, he stated that, “This mitigation by the government, somebody may see it as negligible but it is very essential.”

The Vice president’s annoncement was greeted with cheers from the auditorium on Wednesday, April 3, while speaking at the Economic Management Team’s maiden town hall meeting. He explained that, “To reduce the incidence of smuggling and enhance revenue, the benchmark or delivery values of imports have been reduced by 50 percent except for vehicles which will be reduced by 30 percent effective 4th April 2019.”

He added, “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 percent annually and increase custom revenue.”

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