Importers reject tax evasion claims by AGI
Importers and freight forwarders have dismissed claims of engaging in malpractices at the ports leading to the gradual collapse of local manufacturing industries.
They maintain that such allegations could not be possible as they go through strict scrutiny in the clearing process.
The comments come on the back of concerns raised by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) over the collapse of major policies should the malpractices at the ports go unresolved.
One key program that the AGI believes the illegality threatens is the one district, one factory.
The President of the AGI, Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi announced the plight of the local manufacturers at a media briefing last Thursday, February 1, 2018.
According to him, the issues of under invoicing, under declaration and mis-description have become complex due to reports of custom officials conniving with the perpetrators.
“Paying taxes in Ghana is mandatory yet some criminal minded importers have found cunning ways to evade tax/duties through the connivance with some revenue officials at the ports,” he stated.
Manufacturers lament unfair competition
Commenting on the issue, the CEO of cosmetic firm, FC Group of Companies, Grace Amey Obeng also lamented the unfair pricing compared with imported products.
“Creams that would cost you about 1 cedis to produce in Ghana is being sold out on the market for 1 cedis 50 pesewas and that is impossible considering the cost of production such as packaging, water and electricity…We cannot scale up and compete with the imported products,” she stated.
Another member of the AGI, who is a manufacturer of fruit juice, narrated his story on the impact of the malpractices.
“Almost every supermarket in Ghana has stocked other brands of fruit juices imported into the country which also contain the food concentrates that we have similar ones produced in Ghana. Why then do we not use those that are produced in the country? We are only happy to create jobs for other countries.”
Freight forwarders respond
But reacting to these concerns, the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Kwabena Ofosu Appiah explained that the strict clearing process couldn’t allow such illegalities.
“The Technical Services Bureau does not take the documents that we present hook, line and sinker; this includes the declared intention before it is allowed into the system. We have another crack team of customs officers at the compliance level who have records that have piled up as a result of transactions that have passed through the system. After all of these you go unto the field and meet another set of customs that is if you are channeled to go through examination,” he told Citi Business News in an interview.
On the specific concern of systems breakdown of the scanner, Mr. Appiah explained as;
“The system that we have on the ground is making it such that goods that are even channeled to the scanner are even reducing; over 76 percent of our operations at the ports is going through the red channel which is physical examination…This goes beyond finding comfort in blaming someone for the challenges at the ports.”