GRA suspends reversal of benchmark policy

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The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has suspended the reversal of the benchmark policy.

A statement issued by the GRA on Thursday January 13 said “Following the outcome of a meeting held on Wednesday 12th January 2022 the customs Division of GRA has been directed to suspend the implementation.

“Government’s policy directive on removal of reduction of values of imports on selected items until further notice to enable more engagements with all the relevant stakeholders.”

This comes after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ordered the suspension of policy to allow for further consultations.

The president’s order came after the Finance Ministry had agreed to further engagement on the discounted benchmark reversal after crucial meeting with other stakeholders.

The meeting on Thursday January 6 was attended by the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta, trade union leaders, Customs and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to conclude on what was termed” satisfactory values for importation”.

The reversal was to affect 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.

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