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08.11.2007 Business & Finance

Illegal freight charges US$300 million


Mr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi, President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), on Wednesday said local importers were losing US$300 million a year in illegal freight charges by shipping lines at the various entry points.

He said for shipments that consignors in the country of origin had paid freight charges to the shipping lines, consignees in Ghana who took delivery of those shipments also paid freight charges to the shipping lines in addition to all the duties and handling charges at the port.

“This is illegal and it must be stopped with immediate effect,” he said.

Mr. Oteng-Gyasi made the call at the launch of a World Bank Group report titled, “Doing Business in Ghana 2008.”

The report, which was a project benchmarking the regulatory cost of doing business in Ghana ranked Ghana the 87th easiest business destination among 178 economies based on at least 10 criteria points.

The criteria included registering property, for which Ghana was ranked 26, protecting investors, 33, enforcing contracts, 51, trading across borders, 61, paying taxes, 75, closing a business, 96, starting business, 138, employing workers also 138 and finally dealing with licenses, 140.

Mr. Oteng-Gyasi noted that the issue of double freight charging at the entry ports was a concern to importers, saying that the issue had been raised in several forums in the past but very little had been done to correct the anomaly.

He noted that although Ghana performed creditably in the areas of reforms in property registration, investor protection and the enforcement of contracts, there was the need to sustain the gains through strict adherence
to deadlines and the new turn around times.

“One way we can sustain the gains is by ensuring the availability of credit to businesses to prevent their collapse due to inability to source funding. In that respect it would be important for the report to also capture the cost of credit in Ghana to assist in providing cheaper credit for businesses,” he said.

Mr. Oteng-Gyasi noted that currently the registration period for business in Ghana had changed from six months to a month, but more needed to be done to ensure that the system did not backslide.

He observed that even though the turn around time of business registration had reduced considerably, there was the need to choose between the colonial deed registry and land title registry, both of which continued to ran alongside each other for the past 50 years.

Mr. Oteng-Gyasi also noted that the centrality of institutions in the capital cities did not augur well for addressing issues regarding business in the country, saying that even though the report took note of the existence of commercial courts in the country, those courts were centred in Accra and therefore business in the other regions did not have easy access to such facilities.

The AGI Boss also noted that one other problematic issue to businesses in Ghana was the cost of firing workers, saying that even though there was huge unemployment in the country, the economy was largely labour intensive and for that, it was expensive to sack unneeded workers.