The Deputy Minister of Transport, Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, on Wednesday said, government would deal decisively with syndicates involved in the diversion of transit goods intended for the landlocked countries into the local market, in order to evade payment of taxes.
He described those elements as “nation wreckers”, noting that, the Government would not spare them as the President had declared 2019 as an “action year” to generate sufficient revenue to support the country’s infrastructural development.
Mr Titus-Glover, also the Member of Parliament for Tema East, said this when he addressed stakeholders in the maritime trade and transport industry at a sensitization seminar on transit trade in Accra.
He said government was determined to galvanize the necessary arsenals to curtail smuggling of transit cargo, saying; ”Let me warn you, if you’re caught for wrongdoing, don’t call me to beg for you”.
The event was held on the theme: “Streamlining Processes for the Growth of Transit Trade in Ghana”, which sought to redefine operational requirements and re-emphasize effective customs control within the dual objective of revenue assurance and trade facilitation.
It was organized by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority to also solicit ideas from stakeholders in the maritime industry to attract shipping lines to Ghana’s Ports and strategize ways to halt diversion of transit goods.
The event attracted Chief Executive Officers of state institutions and representatives from the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, National Security and Haulage Association, as well as delegations from the Shippers’ Councils of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
Mr Titus-Glover noted that all the countries within the Gulf of Guinea, including Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast were competing with Ghana for transit cargo so that they could collect revenues for their respective governments.
He, therefore, charged the various state agencies at the country’s ports to be alert and halt individuals and syndicates evading taxes.
He assured of government’s commitment to implement policies that would aid in increasing revenue generation, and asked the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to continue providing escort for transit cargo, while tracking devices monitor them for safe delivery to the country of destination.
The Deputy Minister said, Ghana has signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Burkina Faso and Niger for the setting up of desks at the country’s ports to collect taxes on transit cargo and announced that very soon another MoU would be signed with the Malian authorities.
He believed such agreements would mutually benefit the nation and her landlocked counterparts to enhance revenue collection to fast-track their development efforts.
Ms Benonita Bismarck, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), in her welcome address, said the seminar was organized to address key issues such as the New Measures for Transit Tracking, Transit Process Flow, Transit Vehicle Registration, Transit Insurance Requirements and Licensing of Freight Forwarders for Transit Trade and the Concept of First Duty Rule.
Ms Bismarck while lauding the port expansion programme to accommodate more shipping lines at the country’s ports, called for collaboration of all state agencies to curb diversion of transit cargo.
The CEO of the GSA noted that Ghana was a signatory to a number of international conventions and regional treaties, which were meant to safeguard maritime trade and not compromising on her obligations.
“We’re called to walk a narrow path of trade facilitation and revenue assurance. Any misstep will dim our chances of benefiting from this trade,” Ms Bismarck emphasized.