Benchmark value was for GUTA to reduce prices but they failed – Dennis Aboagye

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A Former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Akuapem North Dennis Miracles Aboagye, has said he agrees with the decision by the government to reverse the benchmark value policy.

He believed that the Ghana Union of Trade Association (GUTA) failed to honour its part of the bargain when the policy was introduced following the failure of the union to reduce prices of their goods.

Mr Aboagye stated on the New Day show on TV3 with Johnnie Hughes Thursday January 6 that among the reasons for the introduction of the policy was for GUTA to reduce the prices of the goods but that has not happened.

“One of the reasons I side with the government on the reversal is that GUTA said if government gives them the 50 per cent discount they will reduce prices. Did they reduce prices? No, they didn’t. If you don’t do that then you don’t deserve to continue enjoying that discount.” he said.

He stressed “When the reduction was given there was no price decrease.”

He further accused the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of deceiving Ghanaians that the reversal of the policy will lead to increment in prices of the affected items.

Deputy Trade Minister, Michael Okyere Baafi, had also said government’s main interest in introducing the reversal of the benchmark value is to ensure that more local companies are able to set up in the country.

He said the government was rather being sensitive hence, this policy.

The Member of Parliament for New Juaben South told TV3’s Komla Klutse in an interview on Wednesday January 5 that “For me, I believe the government is even being more sensitive than the word sensitive because the reality is that the government is now showing the way.

“What is the way? The way is for the country to be reliant, somehow for the country to be in the position to set up businesses so that we will not focus so much attention on importing a lot of products for our country.

“We will be able to produce them here. Government’s interest here is to make sure that people set up in this country, we have industries setting up in this country so that when we have industries setting up in this country there will not be the need for people to import.”

His comments come after the National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Sammy Gyamfi has accused the government of insensitivity following this decision.

Sammy Gyamfi, has said the decision by the government through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to reverse the benchmark value is a terrible decision that comes at a time when the cedi is depreciating and world commodity prices are increasing at an alarming rate, with freight charges and port handling charges being extremely high.

He said more importantly, “the callous decision by government to reverse benchmark value discounts comes at a time Ghanaian businesses, startups, parents and households are reeling under a yoke of excessive taxation, persistent increases in fuel prices and
high cost of living never before witnessed in the anals of our country.”

The reversal affects 143 items under three categories prescribed by the Ghana Revenue Authority.

The benchmark value, which is the amount taxable on imports, was reduced by 50 percent for some goods. The government had hoped that this was going scale up he volume of transactions of make Ghana’s ports competitive.

The government decided to reverse this decision after it met opposition from Association of Ghana Industries and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).

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Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG), Sampson Asaki Awingobit, has said he would sue the government over the reversal of the 50 percent benchmark on value on imports if the GRA does not stop the move.

He told 3FM’s Napo Ali Fuseini in interview on Wednesday January 5 that the reversal smacks of illegality for which he is calling on the GRA to stop.

“This benchmark value issue has to be dealt with legal way because. This benchmark value issue is illegal on its own. You cannot say you have created a data trade price somewhere that nobody knows how and manner you are getting the price data,” he said.

The IEAG said this decision would be detrimental to the business community if it is not stopped immediately.

According to the IEAG, it would also lead to many businesses losing their cargoes since importers would have to pay more outside their budgets even at this crucial time at the beginning of a new year.

A statement signed by their Executive Secretary Sampson Asaki Awingobit said on Tuesday January 4 that ” the position taken by government and by extension the Ghana Revenue Authority GRA on this matter would be detrimental to the business community if it is not reversed immediately.

“It would lead to many businesses losing their cargoes since importers would have to pay more outside their budgets even at this crucial time at the beginning of a new year. In the very likely event that such importers are not able to raise the additional funds to clear their goods on time, issues of uncleared cargo lists UCL would pop up and huge loses to demurrage would set in.

“Therefore, the IEAG is calling on the government and for that matter the GRA to withdraw this directive with immediate effect. The IEAG demands that such importers be given at least 14 working days to clear their already cleared cargoes from the port without the new 50% benchmark values.”

Mr Awingobit further revealed that he would sue the the government if it doesn’t alt the reversal.

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana