Effective November 1, 2018, a new customs bonded warehousing regime will become operational in the country, during which some goods cannot be warehoused, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has said.
The items that cannot be warehoused under the new system include ethanol (alcohol), lead acid batteries, tinned tomatoes, cement, chalk, paint, lime, canned drinks, canned fish and cooking oil.
In an interview on the warehousing regime, a Principal Revenue Officer of the Customs Division of the GRA at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Mr Ernest Appiah Boakye, explained that the new warehousing system was an internal customs regime which allowed mostly imported, and some locally manufactured goods, to be locked up, kept and stored in a secure private customs bonded warehouse.
He said when in the bonded warehouse, duties and taxes were deferred until the release of the goods from the warehouse.
That, according to him, meant that when an importer brought in goods and realised that the duty to be paid was so much that it could not be raised upfront, the importer could apply for warehousing, such that the goods would be moved from the ports into a bonded warehouse, he explained.
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“Warehousing is the mother of all regimes because if you put your goods in the warehouse, you can now do any of the regimes. You can ex-warehouse or re-export, you can ex-warehouse for consumption and for free zones purposes,” he stated at a sensitisation workshop for taxpayers, traders and importers in Accra.
The workshop educated stakeholders on the withholding Value Added Tax (VAT) and amendment to the law, filing of tax returns and suspense regimes (transit/warehousing) among others.
Types of bonds
However, Mr Boakye said not all items could be warehoused and that for revenue security, importers were required to execute a bond, either the removal bond or the premises bond, with any credible insurance company to be admitted.
“The bond covers the duty of the goods while moving it from the port into a warehouse and the premises bond is needed to cover the duties on the amount of goods that is going to be stored,” he said.
Duration of warehoused items
Mr Boakye indicated that perishable goods such as fresh vegetables, fish and meat products were allowed for a period of three months with no option to re-warehouse, or else the goods would be auctioned.
Secondly, general goods were allowed for a year without an option to warehouse and the third group, raw materials, had a grace period of two years with an option of one year to re-warehouse.
According to Mr Boakye, the warehouse regime offered some convenience to the importer, explaining that, “You put it there and at your own time you solicit for funds and pay the duty, or you pay the amount you can afford, so it is very convenient.”
The system also gave monetary advantage to the trader because hitherto, his capital was locked up in duty payments. “But now the goods are sent to your own warehouse and you do not lose your money and that money can be used for other things,” he said.
However, the system comes with extra cost incurred on supervision. An officer is required to be present at the bonded warehouse to monitor the inflow and outflow of goods.
The Sector Commander of KIA Customs, Assistant Commissioner Mrs Theresah Kyei-Asare, emphasised that tax was an integral part of businesses and development, adding that the citizenry was obliged to comply with the laws.
“So it is better to know the laws and procedures and know the way that things are done to avoid being penalised,” she said.