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26.09.2005 Business & Finance

Harbours Minister urges streamlining of taxes

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Bolgatanga, Sept. 26, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways on Monday called on inspection agencies especially, BIVAC Ghana Limited to put in place efficient mechanisms for determining dutiable values of goods crossing the country's northern borders.

This, he said, would assist the Customs Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) to levy the appropriate taxes and duties on the goods. It would also encourage traders to use the approved routes and pay the right levies.

The Minister made the call when he inaugurated the Bolgatanga-Bawku Shippers' Committee, which is the Upper East Regional branch of the Ghana Shippers' Council, in Bolgatanga.

He noted that the booming trade in products such as livestock, onions and other vegetables from the hinterland into Ghana and also the export of commodities including salt, timber, aluminium from the country to its northern neighbours do not fetch much revenue because much of the trade passes through unapproved routes.

"This unfortunate situation is due to the lack of the appropriate machinery for determining the appropriate levels of taxes and duties. Consequently, the cross border traders resort to using unapproved routes to avoid taxes and duties levied by the CEPS", he said.

Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said government was embarking on some projects to boost transit trade. These include the improvement of road infrastructure along the Accra-Kumasi-Paga and Takoradi-Kumasi-Hamile roads.

Also, a cargo trucking system is being reviewed by CEPS, in consultation with other stakeholders to provide assurances to the Customs and Police that cargo in transit is not smuggled but directed along agreed regional itineraries within a reasonable period of time. He urged the Shippers' Committee to liase and cooperate with other government agencies to provide importers and exporters in the region the efficient services required to boost commercial activities.

"The products of this region such as smocks, cane bags, baskets and hats must be developed for export to the international market to earn income and revenue with which government can provide schools, hospitals and water to improve the living standards of the people of this region", he said.

Mr Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers Council, expressed concern about cargo clearance procedures, which he said, still remained cumbersome despite efforts by stakeholders to improve on it. He called on operators in the port to adapt their IT systems to the Ghana Community Network (GCNet) system in order to derive the optimum efficiency in the clearance process.

Mr Mbiah urged all Shipper Committees to help reduce the cost of transportation, especially freight charges, saying it was still too high even though there had been a significant improvement in recent times. He urged the newly inaugurated Shipper Committee to take advantage of the great potential of natural resources in the region to promote an accelerated export-led growth.

Mr Boniface Gambila, Upper East Regional Minister, noted that some social practices in the area were not conducive to wealth creation and urged the people to re-direct their investment in cattle and goats that they never sell out to more predictable productive ventures. They should also refrain from marrying several wives.

He said the region had enormous investment opportunities in the production of smocks and other garments; leather works, Straw baskets, hats and tomato processing, and urged the Committee to help stimulate increased investment and productivity in those enterprises.

Mr Gambila said the Regional Co-ordinating Council had started consultations with citizens of the region and those in neighbouring Burkina Faso towards a strategy that will harness the creative skills of the people towards development.

The Chairman of the Council's Board of Directors, Mr. J.B.K. Amanfo, inaugurated the 12-member committee, chaired by Mr Francis Danso, an exporter.

The Ghana Shippers Council is mandated by law to protect and promote the interests of importers and exporters in Ghana throughout the entire transport chain, hence the formation of Shippers Committees in all regions to help achieve that objective.

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