Mr Henry Ayinemi Atampugbire, the Upper West Region Commander of Customs Division, Ghana Revenue Authority, has expressed worry over abuse of Temporary Vehicle Importation (TVI) system leading to mass revenue leakages.
The TVI system permits motor vehicles to be imported temporarily into the country without payment of Import Duty and other Customs taxes and later re-exported.
He said such vehicles were free of duty since they must be re-exported within three months of their first importation, either in the same state or after having undergone specified process or repairs.
Mr Atampugbire was speaking during a sensitization seminar on Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding (HS code) in Wa.
He explained that while in Ghana, the vehicle must not be offered for sale, lent, pledged, hired, driven away, exchanged or otherwise disposed of, and must not be used for the purpose of picking up passengers or conveying goods to another place.
But, Mr Atampugbire said, the system, which was introduced under ECOWAS and other international conventions to facilitate free movements of goods and persons among member countries have been abused consistently.
He said some unscrupulous people sold those vehicles to unsuspecting Ghanaians, “particularly in Kumasi which is the centre of all such fictitious things.”
The Commander therefore advised the public who wanted to buy vehicles to initially visit any customs office to verify the authenticity of vehicles before buying it.
“As I am speaking, we have impounded two of such vehicles and it is in our compound,” he said, adding that, several of those vehicles were auctioned to the public, last year.
The TVI is one of the international conventions to facilitate movement of goods and people, of which Ghana is signatory to.
However, the Customs face the challenge of how to effectively monitor and control the temporary importation of vehicles into Ghana across land borders.
Officials say the system abuse is as a result of lack of structural system of reconciliation of vehicles entering and leaving Ghana, which poses risks of revenue leakage through non re-export of such vehicles.
Mr Kenneth Baye, Principle Revenue Officer of Customs Division of GRA, Tema Collection, who was one of the resource persons, said the HS Code had gone through several changes for application next year.
He attributed the change to technological progress, international trade patterns and adaptation of nomenclature to reflect trade patterns, as well as reinforce the multipurpose nature of the nomenclature.
He advised stakeholders to grasp details of the amendments and reasons for them in the 2017 version for effective use in the ensuing year.
Another resource person, Mr Richard Quayson at the Tema Boarding, called on law enforcement agencies to make the ECOWAS principle on free movements of goods and people work.
He said leaders and security agencies should ensure the rules were applied to ensure ECOWAS member countries moved from customs union to the market stage.
International trade involves the movement of goods across national frontiers which require procedures expressed in national legislations and implemented by Customs.