The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and seven other business associations have kicked against the proposed introduction of a Terminal Handling Charge (THC) by some shipping lines in the country.
The charge is a new addition to the various tariffs paid by the shipping community in the country, which the businesses said would be injurious to their survival and competitiveness.
If allowed to take effect, the associations argued, the charge, which was due to take effect this month, would help raise the cost of doing business and that would translate into low patronage for their products as well as a slowdown in economic development.
A press release signed by representatives of the umbrella bodies of eight of the groups said estimates showed that the THC, if allowed to go on, would cost their members a total of over $78 million in new charges in a year.
“Knowing the history of these local charges, this figure will definitely increase astronomically over time,” the statement, signed by representatives from the AGI, the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce (GNCC), the Ghana Chamber of Mines (GCM) and the Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE), said.
The release followed a meeting at the AGI Secretariat on July 26 called in the wake of the new charge to discuss its impact on shippers and how to ameliorate it.
Other business associations that signed the release were the Ghana Union of Traders, the Greater Accra Regional Shipper Committee (GARSC), the Ghana Root Crops and Tubers Exporters Union and the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF).
The eight groups form the bulk of the shipper community in the country, with their members accounting for virtually all the shipments that come into and out of the country.
As a result of the expected impact of the charge on business survival, the associations said “shippers and other stakeholders in Ghana collectively and unequivocally reject the proposed THC by some shipping lines operating to and from the seaports of Ghana”.
They explained that the charge was already embodied in the ocean freight that shippers paid to shipping lines, hence the need to stop it from being introduced.
Making it a local charge, they say, will amount to duplication of payment and that will be unfair and illegitimate.
“The payment of the THC as an isolated local charge to the shipping lines is completely alien to the practice of shipping in Ghana, since terminal operators already charge shippers the THC for cargo handling services provided,” it said.
The statement called on the government to intervene “in this injustice against the people of Ghana”, explaining that its introduction was completely unjustifiable and would only bring undue cost to businesses.
It said the government needed to caution some shipping lines in the country — the Pacific International Line, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, CMA CGM, Arkas Lines and UASC — which it said had given notice of their intention to start applying the charge.
“Government must take a firm action on this matter, including the denial of entry into the ports of Ghana to the shipping companies that insist on imposing the THC,” it said.
The statement also expressed the willingness of the business associations to engage the lines in a constructive discussion towards resolving the matter.