The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), is cautioning government against any attempt to reverse the 50% reduction in benchmark values.
The warning, according to GUTA, follows attempts by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) to get government to cancel it.
Benchmark values are reference values that Customs uses in determining taxes and duties on imported items.
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, in 2019, announced a 50% reduction in the benchmark values to reduce the incidence of smuggling and enhance revenue at the country’s ports.
But the President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, believes any attempt to reverse the policy will bring untold hardship and disunity among Ghanaian business communities.
“We have pledged our support to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to help them achieve an enhanced revenue collection to enable the government to achieve its development agenda. With all the sacrifices we are making as well as the difficulties we are going through, it will be callous for any group to call for the reversal of the 50% reduction of the benchmark value which has helped in resuscitating businesses in no small measure.”
“Already, due to the existing challenges we are faced with, prices of goods and services are escalating in the market, and any attempt to reverse the policy will result in unbearable hardship to the general public,” he added.
50% benchmark value on imports still in force – GRA
The Ghana Revenue Authority had earlier dismissed claims that it has been directed by the Ministry of Finance to reverse the 50% benchmark value on imports.
According to the Authority, the benchmark value policy also known as the discount policy continues to be implemented as originally announced by the Vice President, Dr. Bawumia.
It will be recalled that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta had in early April 2019, directed the reduction of the benchmark value or delivery values of imports, by 50%, except for vehicles which were to be reduced by 30%.
This was part of efforts to reduce the menace of smuggling and make the country’s ports more competitive and attractive.
However, a statement issued by the Ghana Revenue Authority states that, “the attention of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been drawn to a letter making the rounds in the media on the ‘Benchmark’ value reduction policy (the discount policy).”
“The Ghana Revenue Authority wishes to state that, “the said document with the list of items at both the heading and sub-heading levels of the HS code is an internal document analyzing the impact of the discount policy on our revenue collection with regards to those items as well as the impact on local industries, public health safety and the environment.”
It further notes that “the internal analysis was not approved by the Central Government and is thus applicable.”
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson E.K. Dafeamekpor, has asked the Ministry of Finance to seek parliamentary approval before directing the Ghana Revenue Authority, to reverse the 50% benchmark value reduction.
He said the move would be an illegality if it is implemented, as it has not been sanctioned by Parliament.
GRA welcomes reduction in import values
Following the announcement by the Vice President, in 2019, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) stated that it was optimistic that the announcement of the reduction of the benchmark values on some goods at the port will help the authority meet its financial target for the year as it was not able to meet it.