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GRA Warns Importers To Clear All Containers   
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The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has stepped up efforts to decongest the ports and Outside Freight Stations of abandoned containers in order to recoup locked up revenue and also to create space so as to enhance economic activities.

As a result, the Commissioner of Customs, Wallace Akondor, has issued a fiat to importers to negotiate with the shipping lines to clear the containers, some of which have remained at the ports and stations for well over a year.

In an interview with the media, the Customs boss said that it is worrying that people spend lots of money to bring their consignments, pay the requisite duties to Customs, but leave these containers to attract huge demurrage.

He did not, however, rule out the possibility of some importers who have failed to honour their part of the business transactions, with the very principals who supplied them the goods.

Mr. Akondor further stated that even though Customs in most cases collect the needed revenue, this issue goes to position the facilities as a private warehouse for the importers.

The Customs boss intimated that his outfit will not look on unconcerned for congestions to be taking place, so it would be left with no option but to auction these goods and send the proceeds to government chest.

Our investigations revealed that the outside container terminal of ATLAS, opposite the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), is presently choked with such abandoned containers.

He bemoaned the situation where perishable goods in the containers have to be destroyed at huge costs to the importer and the shipping agencies. On public auctions and allocations, the least said about them, the better for both systems have been abused.

Further inquisition uncovered that the system was introduced to collect locked up revenue for the state and also allow space for in-coming cargoes but this is not the case now.

Few years ago, a syndicate virtually hijacked the so called public auctions by crowding the venues with only members of the group to buy these items and go to resell them to members of the public at exorbitant prices.

Now that the public auctions have not been going on for some time now, and only allocations taking place, chits are issued to prospective buyers who in actual fact cannot raise the required capital to pay for these items.

It then happens is that, the chit holder goes roaming the markets across the country soliciting for money to go and pay for the allocated items, and after securing the funds, sometimes after months, now goes for the goods and then offers them for sale at cut-throat prices on the general market.

Sources at Customs intimated that the situation is not helping either for it goes to defeat the purpose of either public auction or allocation to bring in revenue and decongest the ports
Source: The Chronicle

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