Government’s tax revenue projection faces a major threat as importers have resolved not to pay duties and tolls at the ports once the implementation of the Advance Shipment Information (ASHI) system commences.
At an emergency meeting yesterday, the Joint Private Sector Consultative Business Forum passed a resolution not to clear all imports from the very day ASHI takes off.
Speaking to The Finder after the emergency meeting, leaders of the various business associations in the country said the move is the first step on a list of a number of legitimate actions they will take to resist the implementation of ASHI.
The Forum is made up of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Ghana Automobile Dealers Association (GADA), Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG), and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
It also includes the Importers and Exporters Association, Ghana Pharmaceutical Chamber, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Customs Brokers Association of Ghana, and Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana.
The various business associations passed the resolution in response to statements by Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor that ASHI, which was suspended indefinitely on the orders of President John Dramani Mahama, would be implemented next month.
The various business associations wanted ASHI scrapped.
Consequently, the Joint Private Sector Consultative Business Forum, declared a demonstration to protest Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP) and ASHI.
To avert the demonstration, government suspended the two programmes indefinitely and the Joint Private Sector Consultative Business Forum responded positively by calling off the strike.
However, just about two weeks after the Joint Private Sector Consultative Business Forum suspended its planned demonstration, Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor publicly announced that implementation of the programme would take off next month.
Speaking to The Finder, leaders of the business associations denied ever holding discussions or consultation with the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) towards the implementation of the Advance Shipment Information (ASHI).
“As far as the Joint Consultative Business Associations is concerned, ASHI and G-CAP have indefinitely been suspended by the government and it is regrettable that the Ghana Shippers Authority is blatantly defying the orders of the President by trying to use all means necessary to implement the ASHI.
“The business community is resolved to ensure that no personal interest will override that of the business community and the national interest. We are very convinced the programme is never in the interest of the state but only seeks to enrich a few self-centred individuals.
“We, therefore, advise our members, the business community, and our trading partners to ignore any information that comes from the GSA regarding the implementation of ASHI,” the Forum said.
The Joint Private Sector Consultative Business Forum charged the GSA to rather concern itself with more important issues pertaining to high demurrage and rent, general inefficiency at the ports and extortions that often come from shipping lines.
They noted that the problems confronting the business community are so numerous that any additional tax-oriented policy will aggravate the already precarious situation.
“It is important for policymakers to be sensitive to the plight of the business community in times like these,” the leaders said.
They are surprised that after the argument that ASHI was to solve the problem of demurrage collapsed, the ministry has now shifted the goal post saying that ASHI would check undervaluation of imports.
According to them, ASHI is not the solution to under valuation since the Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) have checks and balances to deal with it.
They explained that Destination Inspection Companies which have reason to suspect under-declaration get the actual values from the manufacturers on the internet for the importer to pay.
Therefore, they said the Minister’s statement that ASHI is to address undervaluation cannot stand the test of time.
Ministry of Trade and Industry
It noted that at a time when Ghana was making progress in “ease of doing business” rankings, as well as “attractiveness to foreign investment,” embarking on a strike will give Ghana a negative reputation in international business circles, as the intended strike would affect the various international partners and interlocutors of the business and industry players.
Again, with recent announcement of the successful IMF negotiations with government, which is expected to inject a large volume of new public and private sector capital into the country, the decision of the business associations to go on strike could be misconstrued to mean a disappointment with the success of the IMF negotiations and an organised effort to undermine the national economy, it observed.
Source: The Finder
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