The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has expressed their disappointment with the government's directive to reverse the 50 percent benchmark value on imports effective Tuesday, January 4.
The association has warned of an increase in prices of goods if the directive takes effect tomorrow.
Benchmark value reduction
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced the directive in a statement today (January 3), noting the reversal of the reduction of values of imports on 43 selected items.
The goods include rice, sugar, biscuits, pharmaceutical products, finished Aluminium products, toiletries, fruits juices, chocolate products, tomato paste, ceramic tiles, machinery equipment, home delivery value of vehicles, among others.
Government in 2019 introduced the benchmark policy in accordance with the World Customs Organisation’s policy of regular review of valuation database.
Under the policy, certain commodities were benchmarked to the prevailing world prices as a risk management tool to reflect the true market dynamics of these commodities.
It also considered factors such as protection of health, the environment, and security as well as protection of local industries.
President of GUTA Dr. Joseph Obeng in an interview with Accra based Joynews noted that the directive would badly affect the livelihood of Ghanaians and urged the government to take a second look at its decision.
"The prices of goods are going to double, because the benchmark value was the last straw that businesses were holding onto, particularly, in times of COVID," he said.
The First Vice President of GUTA, Clement Boateng, also noted that he believes the policy has not been thought though, considering the country's current economic state.
He warned that they would have no choice than to pass the cost of goods onto consumers, urging consumers to brace themselves.
"Since the directive will take effect from tomorrow consumers should brace themselves for increase in prices," he said.
He added that; "the reversal of the benchmark value is not right, and we think it is will have a negative impact on businesses. We all know that this reversal has come about as a result of lobbying of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI); but we think AGI does not have the capacity to produce the things that the benchmark value has taken off."
"We think GUTA has an unfinished business with government, so we will still continue to engage the government and see what can be done,' he said.
The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, Mr. Samson Asaki Awingobit, also reiterated that the decision by the government was not the right time due to the current economic hardships.
"I strongly believe that it is not the right time. It it is known that the government is the largest employer, how many people have been employed and getting good pay between 2019 to 2021?," he questioned.
He also noted that importers play a crucial role in the development of the country, therefore urged the government to have proper engagement with stakeholders to find the best way forward.
"If our importers should in the second quarter decide not import goods, we will see where the country will go. We will have severe shortage of food as the country is not self-sufficient in most of the items imported into the country," he said.
Read statement below: