GUTA directs members to halt imports to protest cargo tracking

BY: Maclean Kwofi

The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has directed its members to halt shipment of goods into the country until their concerns on the cargo tracking note (CTN) are fully addressed by the government.

The directive is to take effect from September 1, 2018, the day full implementation of the CTN is scheduled to take off.

Starting Thursday, August 30, GUTA will also give the government a four-day ultimatum to suspend the implementation of the CTN or face a nationwide shut-down of their trading activities.

The association comprises of over 30,000 traders who import and trade goods within the country.

Some of its members are at the Abossey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association, Mobile Phone Dealers Association, Okaishie Shop Owners Association, and Kantamanto Traders Association,

The rest are Used Cloth Association of Ghana, Ghana Electrical Dealers Association, Confectionary Dealers Association, Tyre Dealers Association, Ghana Shoe Sellers Association, and Wholesalers Importers and Shop Owners Association.

Also six different associations that are not members of GUTA have declared their intention to join the planned protest to force the government to suspend the new system.

The Vice President of GUTA, Mr Charles Gyan, told Graphic Online in Accra that the planned actions were aimed at registering the association’s displeasure with the CTN.

Mr Gyan maintained that the system pilot phase of the system was implemented with minimal stakeholder consultation and full implementation now lead to a duplication of duties, leading to high cost and a reduction in turnaround time at the ports.

This, he said will lead to a rise in cost of doing business.

Use CTN or benchmark value

Per the policy’s Complete Compliance, vessels will not load containers without CTN numbers at the port of loading.

The CTN, which took effect July 1, 2018, was introduced by the government to track all imports to Ghana to reduce revenue losses associated with under declaration of goods at the ports.

Mr Gyan said: “Some people are misrepresenting the issues but the reason behind our protest is that the CTN will lead to a duplication of systems already in place and add-up to the cost of operations at ports.

He observed that GUTA was only asking the government to chose between the CTN or the benchmark valuation introduced at the ports recently.

He said combining the two, as the government was seeking to do, would escalate the cost of doing business and create congestions at the ports.

“If the government was really confident that the CTN would check under-declaration, misclassification, or miss-valuation, it should put aside the benchmark value and use CTN. That is simple.

“Since the CTN is being introduced primarily for the purpose of valuation, we presume that it would have succeeded in solving the authenticity of transactional values, hence our resolve not to allow any usage of the so-called benchmark value or any discretion on the part of the implementers,” he added.

Impact on revenues

Mr Gyan opined that the importing community was not afraid of the implementation of the CTN, but rather believed that some unknown people would make money out of the system, hence its decision to protest against it.

Asked whether the plan protest would not affect government’s revenue target, the Vice President said the implementation of CTN would also impact negatively on their cost of operations.

“If the government is concerned about its revenue target, then it should listen to the appeal of traders in the country,” he said and added that the government would be the end loser after the implementation of the system.

Halt shipment

The acting Chairman of the Abossey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association, Mr Clement Boateng, indicated that the association had also asked its members not to ship any goods into the country from September 1, this year, in protest against the system.

“We have advised all importers to halt shipment into the country from September 1, 2018 until all issues on the CTN are resolved with the government,” he said.