Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Murtala Mohammed has disclosed that the country’s trade deficit increased to $4 billion last year.
He explained that Ghana recorded imports of $17 billion as against $13 billion for exports in 2014.
According to him, “Let me take this opportunity to make this statement that it is the position of government to encourage export and reduce import. It is true we cannot do everything here. Last year alone, we spent $17 billion in import and got $13 billion on export so there was a balance of payment of $4 billion. That’s why government is determined to promote made in Ghana goods.”
The deputy trade minister, who was the special guest of honour at day’s training programme for journalists in Tema organised by the Ship Owners and Agents Association (SOAAG) last Wednesday, made this known.
He further stated that the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) was also taking measures to reduce the number of checkpoints at country’s seaports from 23 to at least 10 in order to hasten clearance and decongestion the ports.
“The ministry is so concern about the complaints of exporters and importers. I can’t imagine why an exporter has to go through 23 unacceptable checkpoints before he or she clears goods,” he stated.
Mr. Murtala said the high number of checkpoints at the ports was a contributing factor to the high level of demurrages incurred in the country.
According to him, MoTI was working in collaboration with other ministries to reduce the number of checkpoints at the country’s ports, indicating that the presence of some agencies at the ports was needless.
He stated for instance that the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) alone has three different checkpoints.
He added that government was looking at implementing a single window clearance at the ports.
The deputy minister added that even though these agencies at the ports have statutory backing, all of them must not work on consignments.
He said decongesting of the ports was very essential to his outfit and would therefore hold an inter-ministerial meeting to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Francis Mensah-Aborampah, Technical Adviser of SOAAG, who was a facilitator during the workshop, called on government to streamline the clearance process, stating that stakeholders must work hard to address the bottlenecks that impede smooth clearance.
According to him, Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) and MoTI must intensify efforts to ensure that shippers are well-informed about the rudiments of import and export trade.