Government intends to reverse its policy to reduce benchmark values on imported vehicles and general goods at the country’s ports.
It will recalled that in April last year, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia at a town hall meeting in Accra on the state of the economy, announced a reduction in the benchmark values by 30 percent.
The decision according the Vice President was part of reforms at the country’s ports aimed at reducing the incidence of smuggling at the ports, enhancing revenue mobilisation and making Ghana’s ports competitive.
Again, the policy was also in response to calls by importers on the government to reduce import duties.
But in a circular dated May 4, 2020, the Ghana Revenue Authority, directed the exclusion of some imports from “enjoying the 50% and 30% discount on goods and vehicles respectively under the Benchmark Policy”.
Prior to the introduction of this policy, total port revenues in 2018 was GH₵13.2 billion. However, due to the reduction government revenues declined to GH₵12 billion in 2019.
This directive however means import duties could go up in the coming weeks or months.
President of Policy Think Tank, Imani Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, in a Facebook post, said by a reversal of this policy, the country could claw back GH₵300 million every month more in 2020 without UNIPASS.
“Even if UNIPASS is pummelled through by relying on GCNET/West Blue systems, the new savings would be because of policy change and not because of UNIPASS.
“This is just like the awam savings attributed to KELNIGVG when all that happened was 50% increase in CST and increased subscriber growth in mobile phones and data”, he remarked.
It is unclear whether the shortfall in revenues from the port is what necessitate this change of decision, but with the raging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Ghana’s economy and total revenue projections for the year, would it be right to say that the u-turn on the policy is part of ongoing effort to find money to cushion the economy?
By Salifu B.B. Moro
Full details of the GRA circular is attached below.