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Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders against abolishment of bonded warehousing

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The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has observed that the proposed abolishment of Customs Bonded Warehousing (CBW) was a disincentive to trade.

Making the observation, at a media briefing in Tema, GIFF reminded government that the Customs Warehousing Regime was an internationally sanctioned regime under the Kyoto Convention.

Mr Carlos Ahenkosah, President of the Executive Council of GIFF, explained that the Kyoto Convention “provides a major mechanism for co-operation between the private sector and Customs Administration, thereby acting as a major catalyst for trade facilitation”.

“The regime provides major impetus to trade in several ways,” by allowing the importer to use a considerable portion of his capital for trade, instead of locking it up in import duties and taxes, he said.

Mr Ahenkosah said the facility saved traders from paying needless bank interests, arising from borrowing money from to pay import duties, adding: “Under this regime, traders can pay duties according to the quantities needed for the market at any given time.”

He said another advantage of the CBW was that it made it possible for small traders to hold large stocks of goods, instead of using half of their capital to buy goods, and the other half to pay duties and taxes on the imported goods.

“It is possible for the traders to use a bigger chunk of their cash to buy the goods, and a lesser amount to pay duties, thereby enhancing their stock at any given time,” the GIFF President stated.

He said it was based on these reasons that GIFF “asserts and maintains that the proposition in this year’s budget to abolish the regime of CBW by government should be re-considered.”

On Destination Inspection Fee, Mr Ahenkosah proposed that it should be based on declared value, and not assessed values, as had been the practice in the past.

He, therefore, suggested that where wrong valuations were determined by destination companies – as private business concerns, they should refund the one per cent service charge to the importer.

He said, since most of these importers were Ghanaians who imported personal effects/automobiles and commercial goods on individual basis, it was morally wrong for big foreign business concerns or inspection companies, to take advantage of the indigenous importers.

Mr Ahenkosah said it was against this backdrop that GIFF was strongly opposed to this practice, “and strongly advise that in the event that these companies determine wrong values, they should be obliged to refund the service fee charged, to the importer”.

He underscored the need for a consistent ports policy in the country regarding the clearing of cargo, pointing out that the customs policy calling for compulsory amendment of bills of lading stuffed with personal effects and cars, did not promote trade.

Mr Solomon Faakye, Acting Executive Secretary of GIFF, expressed concern about the Electronic Shippers Notification Fee, and explained that it was a levy imposed by the Ghana Shippers Authority, on all shipments to and from Ghana.

Mr Faakye said, ostensibly the purpose of the charge, was to enable the Authority register shippers, but was quick to add that with the introduction of the GCNet system or electronic declaration system, the Authority had succeeded in collecting these charges through the GCNet platform, and from the front-ends of freight forwarders.

The continuous imposition of these fees on the shipping public, he opined, was an exploitation and abuse of administrative discretion by the Shippers Authority, since no legislation or statute specifically created a levy of that kind.

Mr Faakye pointed out that the Authority was compulsorily imposing a fee for service, which the importer/exporter did not need, and therefore described it as arbitrary, illegal and unconscionable.

Source: GNA

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