The Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Dr Kofi Mbiah, has appealed to the government to remove the special import levy which was introduced last year.
He said with the increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate, the special levy placed an additional burden on importers in the country.
Dr Mbiah made the call at the launch of the 40th anniversary of the GSA in Accra yesterday.
The GSA is the body mandated by law to protect and promote the interest of shippers in the country.
The theme for the celebration is: “Forty years of providing dedicated services to shippers in Ghana: Achievements, challenges and opportunities”.
The government introduced the special import levy as a temporary measure last year, but it is still in force.
Dr Mbiah said the need for the removal of the levy came up strongly during interactions between GSA officials and shippers throughout the country.
“The authority, having engaged with a broad spectrum of shippers, wishes to make a special appeal to the government to give consideration to the removal of the special import levy,” he said.
He announced that in January 2015, the GSA would begin implementing the Advanced Shipment Information (ASHI) policy, which is meant to provide information on shipments for shippers in advance of the arrival of their cargo.
He said the implementation of the policy would facilitate the clearing of cargo and thereby reduce the payment of huge demurrage and rent costs.
Again, he said the authority had established shippers complaints and support units at Aflao, Elubo, the Takoradi Port, Paga and the Kotoka International Airport.
“These complaint centres provide real time assistance for shippers in their international trade transactions,” he said.
The Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs Joyce A. B. Mogtari, said the proliferation of charges at the ports, cumbersome customs clearance procedures and unacceptable service standards among shipping service providers had increased the cost of doing business at the ports.
She, therefore, called for a collaborative effort among various bodies to ensure that trade facilitation measures, negotiation and monitoring of the charges administered at the ports were put in place to ensure competitiveness and improved turnaround time.
Mrs Mogtari lauded the GSA for reaching out to shippers across the country through the establishment of the regional shipper committees.
The Executive Chairman of the GCNet, Dr Nortey K. Omaboe, said it had been estimated that within the next 15 years, there would be an increase in global sea-borne trade from nine billion tonnes to between 19 and 24 billion tonnes of cargo per year.
Therefore, he said, growth projections for the industry in Ghana must be predicted upon global trends.