Trade Ministry asked to intervene in hike of freight duties

The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana has appealed to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to intervene in measures taken by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) which has caused a hike in freight duty.

The Association appealed to Custom to collaborate and not antagonize the ordinary businessman, importers, and exporters, as they pursue measures and aggressive drive towards tax mobilization to meet the annual revenue target.

Mr Samson Asaki Awingobit, Executive Secretary of the Association, in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency at Tema expressed concern over the surge in freight charges for duty purposes.

The statement alleged that Customs in the face of agitations against the abnormal increment in freight charges had adopted a new strategy to increase value or duty paid on freights, even though they were not mandated to determine the freight value for the purposes of duty.

It noted that freight in the carriage of cargo were subject to negotiation and also to a commercial level, hence Customs cannot set a benchmark value for freight for duty purposes.

The Association explained that the current surge in freight was not normal and this may go away as soon as the imbalance of freight containers are realigned, hence the need for Customs to exercise some caution in their newfound revenue-making avenue.

“The freight surge is already hurting trade traffic and if Customs intends to use this for revenue purposes, it can best be described as unfortunate,” it said.

The statement revealed that other countries who were under similar circumstances were rather assisting businesses to stay afloat and not introducing or riding on the unfortunate freight hike for generation of revenue.

It questioned whether Customs will reduce same when freight begin to fall, stating that there had been similar instances in the past where Customs refused to reduce duty value when freight saw a nosedive.

According to the Association, “benchmark was an outlawed practice but we have it for all the good reasons”.

It said, “between 2016 and 2018 freight rates fell drastically yet Customs did not apply the price paid or payable argument, they used the averages before the fall.

“And with businesses crumpling in the face of a global pandemic, we are convinced beyond measure that Customs with their track record will continue to stay with the current freight value, even when the current freight drops, just to balance their revenue,” the statement said.

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