Extending import duty calculation period laudable—Importers

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Extending import duty calculation period laudable—Importers
Extending import duty calculation period laudable—Importers

Importers are upbeat about the decision by the government to review the date used in calculating the exchange rate for duty on imported goods at the country’s ports.

 Meanwhile, they maintain that there is more to be done to ease the burden on the importing community.

Towards that end, the importers led by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG), have asked the government to use the 2019 budget, which is expected to be read in November this year, to reduce the high duties on imported goods.

They explained that extending the period for which duty rate on imported goods were calculated against the United States (US) dollars from one week to six months would help reduce the impact of the cedi depreciation on their operations.

As welcome news to the importing community, the President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, in an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, on September 23, in Accra, said he was optimistic that the change in the duty rate would yield the desired results at the ports.


“Extending the review period for calculating the cost of imports in relation to the US dollar from one week to six months is laudable but we think that the government should use the 2019 budget to reduce the high import duties paid at the ports,’ he said.

Dr Obeng was hopeful that the extension period was among various initiatives the government was working on to ensure efficiency of business transactions at the ports.

“The review of the period is a laudable idea because it will help us (importers) to plan, and stabilise the duty rate. This is what the importing community has been asking for over the years,” he said.

Keep a watch on the cedi

The views of the GUTA President were corroborated by Mr Samson Asaki Awingobet, the Executive Secretary of the IEAG, who commended the government for the bold decision to extend the period for which duties were calculated.

He also asked the government to keep a watch on the cedi, as it battled to fix the high duty rates that were almost grinding the importing community to a halt.

The executive secretary, who spoke to the paper on September 23 in Accra, was unenthused about the flagging cedi, which had so far dipped about 6.9 per cent this year against the US dollar.

“The cedi situation has overshadowed our concerns for the high import duties, which is beginning to be a source of worry for our members and the business community in general,” he said.

Cedi performance

Over the last few months, global pressures has caused the cedi to depreciate by about 6.9 per cent this year, forcing the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to step up its supply of US dollars to meet daily demand.

The cedi, which was trading at GH¢4.42 to the dollar in January this year, is now valued at GH¢4.78 to the dollar at the interbank market but is trading at GH¢4.94 at some forex bureau in Accra.

Mr Awingobet said the government should put in place measures to check the activities of forex bureaux operators to ensure that they do business within well-defined regulatory parameters.

“We want, the government to adopt the needed forex measures to strengthen the cedi for the next six months in order to help the business community to plan ahead,” he added.

Reserve the duty rate

Beyond the cedi, Mr Awingobet indicated that the government should reverse the duty rate module to the previous 17.5 per cent import duty standard without the five per cent GETFund levy and 2.5 per cent NHIS levy.

“If, the government really wants to reduce the burden of the business community, it should revert to the law to the previous 17.5 per cent import duty standard.

“The introduction of the 2.5 per cent GETFund levy and 2.5 per cent NHIS levy as a tax component on its own have resulted in an increase in import duties at the ports,” he said.

The introduction of the two levies as a standalone tax, he added, had resulted in doubling the duty rates at the ports to the disadvantage of the importer. —

Beyond the cedi, Mr Awingobet indicated that the government should reverse the duty rate module to the previous 17.5 per cent import duty standard without the five per cent GETFund levy and 2.5 per cent NHIS levy.

If, the government really wants to reduce the burden of the business community, it should revert to the law to the previous 17.5 per cent import duty standard.

“The introduction of the 2.5 per cent GETFund levy and 2.5 per cent NHIS levy as a tax component on its own have resulted in an increase in import duties at the ports,” he said.

The introduction of the two levies as a standalone tax, he added, had resulted in doubling the duty rates at the ports to the disadvantage of the importer. — GB