Mandatory local insurance cover suspended — Further engagements underway
The planned implementation of the mandatory local marine cover meant for cargoes entering the country has been suspended for further consultations.
This is to pave the way for the Cargo Insurance Committee (CIC) made up of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), National Insurance Commission (NIC), Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to engage the shipping and insurance authorities in some selected countries on the African continent to learn from best practices for the implementation.
To that end, the committee is expected to engage its counterparts in four African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, all of which have successfully rolled out the mandatory acquisition of local marine insurance.
The engagement has become imperative following challenges faced by the NIC with the initial rollout of the policy on September 1, last year, despite a nationwide sensitisation programme.
Consequently, the Cargo Insurance Committee was mandated to oversee the smooth implementation of the policy.
The committee has since its constitution held series of meetings to discuss inputs from stakeholders, and brainstorm strategies for the implementation to ensure full compliance.
At a crunch meeting in Accra, the Chairman of the committee and Head of the Freight and Logistics Department of the GSA, Fred Asiedu Dartey, said: “If we are able to gather information from the authorities in these countries, it will go a long way to guide us in the best practices for the smooth implementation to ensure compliance”.
He said the policy was designed with the interest of the shipper and should be rolled out in a manner that would not be seen as an additional cost but as an avenue to ensure that cargo was protected.
A Senior Manager in-charge of Marketing and External Relations at the NIC, Charles Ansong Dankyi used the opportunity to clarify some concerns raised by members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) on items covered in each category of cargo insurance.
“For the insurance coverage, we have the port-to-port cover, which covers the goods from the port of loading to the port of discharge.”
“We also have the warehouse-to-warehouse cover, which covers goods from the warehouse of the port of loading to the warehouse of the port of destination, which is purposely for transit cargo.”
“So, the onus is on the importer to declare which of the insurance coverage they desire,” he noted.
Other members of the committee also agreed to intensify sensitisation on the layers of insurance coverage for goods to enable shippers make informed decisions.
In a protest against the implementation of the policy, the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG), Samson Awingobit Asaki, described the policy as a lazy approach by the NIC to rake in revenue from shippers.
“The NIC's attempts to ride on the Insurance Act 2021 (Acts 1016) is not only a desperate move to make money at the expense of the ordinary importer but also an act of insensitivity to the struggling business community,” he stated.
He indicated that per the maritime trading environment, the onus was on the supplier to insure goods that were being transported to a local receiver, therefore questioning how a receiver could insure goods that were on high seas.
He said in some instances, some marine shipments that were cleared at Ghana’s port came with Cargo Freight Insurance value (CIF), meaning they had already been insured by the supplier.
“The NIC should rather focus its strengths and powers on being innovative to raise revenues, without hiding behind an LI to rip local importers of their sweat.”
“The move by the NIC, if not reviewed or scrapped, will rather come back to hurt local businesses, since any additional cost in insuring already insured cargo, will be passed on to the consumer,” he added.
An importer, Daniel Yeboah, expressed surprise and accused the GSA which was mandated to act in the interest of shippers, as rather championing the policy with the help of GRA and NIC to allegedly rip off the group of people they were mandated to fight for.
He maintained that the timing of the implementation of the compulsory insurance policy was misplaced considering the hardship local businesses and importers faced due to the economic downfall.
He commended the decision to revisit the negotiating table with stakeholders to take their inputs and suggestions to make it a win-win for all.