The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is accusing government of attempts to remove the Benchmark Value Reduction of 50% on some selected imported items, saying, any scrapping of the policy will escalate prices of goods on the market and increase hardship.
A statement signed by the President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, warns that the 50% Reduction on the Benchmark Values is the last straw of hope that businesses are holding on in the wake of the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. Benchmark values are reference values that customs uses in determining values that could be imposed on imports meant for clearance at the country’s ports.
He therefore fears of the unbearable hardships any attempt to scrap the Benchmark Value will cause.
“With regards to the selected items which include rice, edible oil, biscuits, frozen chicken and other food and essential commodities, we do not have self-sufficiency and sustainability in the local production. For us to surcharge and punish the final consumer who barely have sufficient and affordable alternative will not be fair and disastrous,” excerpts of the statement read.
According to the trading association, removing the benchmark value will suffice the quest to generate much revenue, adding, the association calls for more pragmatic steps to widen the tax net.
“We suggest that government should look at the abuse in the system of Warehousing, Goods in Transit, the Tax Exemption Policy and find innovative ways to monitor and control these areas which will definitely stop or minimise drastically the over excessive leakages in the system.”
“We will also encourage government to only shortlist these selected items to products that borders on health and security,” the statement added.
The Vice-President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, in 2019 announced a drastic reduction in the benchmark values by 50% at a town hall meeting in Accra.
The move, he said, was to reduce the incidence of smuggling and enhance revenue at the country’s ports.
Similarly, the policy would lead to a 90% reduction in physical examination of containers at the ports, which the government sought to achieve by June 2019, he said.
The move was welcomed by various stakeholders, especially the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), which commended the government.