Exchange rate, port issues made it impossible to reduce prices even with benchmark policy – GUTA

President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, has rejected claims that members of his association failed to reduce prices of goods when the benchmark policy was introduced.

He said on the Key Points on TV3/3fm that factors such as the exchange rate and port-related issues made it impossible for the prices to be reduced.

He described the claim as unfair to GUTA.

His comments come after a Former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Akuapem North Dennis Miracles Aboagye, had said he agreed with the decision by the government to reverse the benchmark value policy.

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

Mr Miracles Aboagye believed that 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.

He 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.

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But Dr Joseph Obeng said “The benchmark did not have any effect on these things you are talking about. The benchmark did not have any bearing whatsoever. Ask if the benchmark policy is reversed like they are craving for, are the prices of the goods going to go down?”

He added “It is never true. That is what our detractors are using against us. Ask the companies, they have the opportunities, they have the machines located in Ghana, the raw material price is the same everywhere in the world and they have advantage of the benchmark reduction also, ask them if they reduced prices because of the benchmark. They will tell you because of the exchange rate and other factors at the port we could not reduce. This is not fair.”

The implementation of Government’s policy directive on reversal of reduction of values of imports on selected items which was set to take effect from Thursday, 6th January, 2022 has been deferred to Monday, 17th January, 2022

Transitional arrangements to ensure a smooth implementation will allow a storage free period for vessels that discharged on 31st December, 2021 to go through clearance without being affected by the reversal policy. The following shall apply:

(1) Effective Monday, 17th January, 2022, any Bill of Entry (BOE) presented without payment of duty and other taxes or deposit of security (where it is a suspense cargo) will be affected by the policy. A bill of entry shall require reprocessing to be affected by the new policy. This will include the following:

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a. Where BOE tax assessment is accepted by declarant but tax bill has not been paid
b. Where BOE tax assessment is yet to be accepted by declarant

(2) For any assessed BOE that was affected by the earlier effective dates of 4th or 6th January, 2022, a reprocessing will be required to reverse the effect of the policy on duty and taxes.

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).

But it met opposition from trade unions including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG).

The Executive Secretary of the IEAG, Sampson Asaki Awingobit, served notice to sue the government over the reversal of the 50 percent benchmark on value on imports if the GRA does not stop the move.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana