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03.04.2006 General News

Minister waives ¢42bn levies without approval

By The Enquirer

The deputy Trade minister, Kwadwo Affram Assiedu has exempted two private companies from paying levies on imports worth $470 million without parliamentary approval.

The value of the levies waived by the minister amounts to over US$4.7million.

They include ECOWAS and EDIF levies respectively.

ECOWAS levy represents 0.5 per cent of all imports whilst the EDIF is also 0.5 per cent of imports.

The minister also ordered the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) at all the ports of entry to exempt also the two companies, Goldfields Ghana Limited and Bogoso Gold Limited from destination inspection without approval.

This means CEPS was prevented from physically inspecting the said goods on arrival in the country in order to verify whether claims made by the said companies in respect of the imports are true.

Fees to be derived in respect of destination inspection for the said imports were also lost by the waiver of the inspection.

Section 9(b) of the Import and Export Act 2000 requires that “The importer shall pay an inspection fee in respect of the destination inspection” which shall not exceed 1 per cent pf the total dutiable CIF value.

The deputy minister told the Enquirer newspaper that it has been a normal practice of his ministry to grant exemptions from destination inspections which goes alongside the ECOWAS and EDIF levies without seeking parliamentary approval.

But article 174 (2) of the 1992 Constitution states that “ where an ACT confers power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by that ACT, the exercise of the power of a waiver or variation in favour of any person or authority shall be subject to prior approval of Parliament by resolution,”

Schedule officer in charge of exemptions at the ministry of trade and industry, told the Enquirer newspaper that the deputy minister did not seek parliamentary approval before granting the exemptions because section 9 ( c) of the export and import amendment act, 2000 mandates the minister to exempt a company from destination inspection taxes and levies depending on the type of goods being imported into the country.

But even the Import and Export Amendment Act, 2000, Act 585 (9c) under which the minister is seeking refuge states that “not withstanding any provision of this part, the minister may by legislative instrument, exempt such category or value of commercial import as may be specified in the instrument from the required destination inspection.”

The schedule officer said items involving the two companies were not items for commercial purposes but were heavy machinery equipment meant for production purposes, but this explanation still does not satisfy the legal requirement of seeking a legislative instrument before making such exemptions.

The minister signed documents on the exemptions on May 20, 2005 and June 2, 2005 respectively.

According to the Enquirer Parliament has not granted any tax waiver to the two mining companies mentioned above nor did they apply through the ministry to Parliament for tax (levies) exemption from various kinds of items they imported into the country within the last six months of 2005.