Importers want 14 days to clear goods in the system after removal of benchmark value

The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG) has appealed to the government to give members at least 14 working days to clear their goods which are in the system for processing before the removal of the 50 per cent bench mark value on some 43 items.

The benchmark value, which is the amount taxable on imports, was given a 50 per cent waiver by the government in 2019 as a way to increase the volumes of trade and also make Ghana’s Ports more competitive.

The policy has, however, been reversed with effect from Tuesday, January 4, 2022 to boost the local industry.

The IEAG in a press statement signed by Mr Samson Awingobit Asaki, Executive Secretary of the Association, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, noted that the implementation of the removal of the 50 per cent benchmark value made it difficult for importers and exporters whose clearing processes were completed in the last working days of 2021 to clear their goods on Tuesday.

The Association stated that the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) platform had been shut to all importers and clearing agents whose processing had already been completed in the last days of 2021 and awaiting to clear their cargoes from the ports.

“Importers and clearing agencies whose Bill of Entry (BOE) were entered and duly accepted by the ICUMS in the last working days of 2021, have been denied access to clear their cargoes from the ports,” the Associated noted, saying it was shocked at the development.

The statement said such importers and clearing agents were being asked to re-enter their various BOEs for new values to be charged on their cargoes.

They, therefore, called on the GRA and government to withdraw the directive to reverse the benchmark value, saying, it would lead to many businesses losing their cargoes.

Importers, they said, would have to pay more outside their budgets “even at this crucial time at the beginning of a new year”.

The statement added that in the likely event that such importers were not able to raise the additional funds to clear their goods on time, issues of Uncleared Cargo Lists (UCL) would pop up and huge loses to demurrage would set in.

The IEAG cautioned that it would not hesitate to commence moves with its allies in the business community to register its displeasure about the directive should the government fail to heed to their demands within 24 hours.

The GRA in a letter dated November 11, 2021 announced the removal of the benchmark on selected items as part of measures to achieve revenue effect.

The affected items include palm oil, crude and refined oils, noodles, toilet and facial tissues, chocolate, clinker, mosquito coil, vehicles, ceramic tiles and aluminium products.

Others are cartons, water, plastic, tile cement, textiles, iron steel, fruit juices, tomato paste, cement paper bags, furniture, pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, detergents, machinery, and alcoholic beverages among others.

Source: GNA

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