The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) on Thursday called off its intended strike of shutting down about 30,000 shops over a new port policy to check revenue leakages after a meeting with the President on Wednesday.
The association intended to close down the shops from Monday to Wednesday, because they felt their concerns over the new CTN policy had not been considered.
Dr Joseph Obeng, President of GUTA said they were unhappy with the Deputy Minister of Finance Carlos Ahenkorah, since they tried to make their input and have their stakeholder engagement done so that everyone would be satisfied.
He said the whole idea of CTN is an attempt by government to independently verify the value goods to be imported into the country.
“They no longer want to rely on documents of freight forwarders, but GUTA believes this can be problematic because the documents freight forwarders use are not always primary or source documents”, he said.
Dr Obeng noted that the CTN could never be done in isolation, and that so many experiments have been done in the past without any better solution, so their inputs need to be considered or else it would not see the day of light.
He mentioned that another concerns raised was the duty rate, which was about one of the highest in the world, about 19 different levies and duties at the ports, as well as the fact that bench mark values were still going to be used when the CTN takes place.
“We did not receive any feedback from the Ministry, so all trading community in Ghana resolved that, they were going to declare today as a closure of stores in Accra.”
According to Dr Obeng, after meeting the President of the republic yesterday and putting across all their issues, he has assured them that efforts would be taken to address their concerns but made it clear to them that, government would not compromise on any measures that allow government to improve revenue collection.
“He has assured us that he was going to do something about the duty rates, and on the issue of benchmark value he understood and assured that, if we were sure we had the right evaluation values, then we would have to use the transactional values, unless there is an incriminating value about a particular transaction.”
“Benchmark value as we are going to present, is going to be used. No more discrimination at the ports. The transaction value is going to be used, no more benchmark values and we are going to sign a memorandum of understanding to this effect.”
Dr Obeng stated that they were calling off the intended strike until October 15, and they urged authorities to follow this information to the shipping lines as soon as possible so that GUTA could know that their goods would be released and shipped to them without any delays because it had caused them lots of monies within this short time that the CTN was going to be introduced.
“Government gave us the six weeks, so if our grievances are not properly captured, we are going to hold the institutions that are supposed to do all necessary due diligence to it responsible.”
Dr Obeng said they were happy that government had called off the CTN implementation until further consultations with the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority, but expressed disappointment that things had to get to the point where GUTA was compelled to issue threats of strikes.