The Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) is undertaking an independent audit of all licensed duty-free shops and household plastic manufacturing companies found to have violated the Free Zone Act 1995 (ACT504).
The audit has become necessary following the arrest of some four persons by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for diverting duty-free goods released for export at Paga to Nungua in Accra for sale on the local market..
The Free Zones laws compel companies operating under the scheme to sell only 30 per cent of their manufactured products locally and export the remaining 70 per cent. This is to help improve the country’s export earnings.
However, the law has been abused continuously by some companies who divert such products to the local market for sale.
To help arrest such diversions, the Executive Secretary of the GFZA, Mr Michael Okyere Baafi, said the authority would collaborate with the Customs Division of the GRA to monitor and arrest recalcitrant companies operating under the scheme.
“The Ghana Free Zones Authority would like to state that it does not condone any illegal acts and would support the Customs Division of the GRA in carrying out its mandate of policing goods entering and exiting Free Zone areas,” he said.
Mr Baafi said, “Free Zones Enterprises are generally compliant with the Free Zones regulations. The culpability of one Free Zone Company in wrongdoing should not provide justification to condemn the entire Free Zone scheme”.
He explained that the implementation of the Free Zones Policy had created significant amount of direct and indirect employment and had contributed immensely to the economy of the country.
Mr Baafi urged all its stakeholders to give the authority the needed support to realise its mission of making Ghana the gateway to West Africa.
He also assured enterprises operating under the scheme that it would continue to provide a congenial environment for their businesses to thrive.
“The authority wishes to also assure the law-abiding Free Zones Enterprises that the Ghana Free Zones Authority and its stakeholders will continue to create the conducive environment for their businesses to thrive,” he said.
Free zone company
A free zone company can be located either in any of the export processing zones (EPZ) or anywhere in the country upon the approval of the GFZA. In essence, the whole country is accessible to potential investors who have the opportunity to use the free zones as focal points to produce goods and services for foreign markets.
The programme is designed to promote the processing and manufacturing of goods through the establishment of EPZs, and encourage the development of commercial and service activities at sea and airport areas.
Companies operating under the programme are entitled to both monetary and non-monetary incentives.
The monetary incentives offered include 100 per cent exemption from the payment of direct and indirect duties and levies on all imports for production and exports from free zones, 100 per cent exemption from the payment of income tax on profits for 10 years which will not exceed eight per cent thereafter and total exemption from the payment of withholding taxes from dividends arising out of free zone investment.