Reversal of benchmark policy smacks of wickedness – Edudzi Tameklo

Private legal practitioner and a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Gordon Edudzi Tameklo, has said the reversal of the benchmark value by the government through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is a mark of wickedness and insensitivity.

In his view, the decision will result in over 40 per cent price hikes for the affected items.

“How can the government be this wicked and insensitive?” he quizzed on the New Day show on TV3 Thursday January 6.

Meanwhile, Deputy Trade Minister, Michael Okyere Baafi, had 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.”

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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).

In fact, the bitter reality is that, given the many draconian taxes that have been introduced by the callous Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government since April 2019 and the continuous depreciation of the Ghana Cedi which is already eroding profit margins and the capital of businesses, importers and Ghanaians in general will be worse off as a result of this decision. In
short, import duties will be far higher than they were before April 2019 when the benchmark value discounts were introduced, in view of the continuous free fall of the Cedi and the raft of new crippling tax measures that government has introduced since April 2019.”NDC-press-statement-on-the-reversal-of-benchmark-value-discounts-on-imported-goods-by-callous-Akufo-Addo-and-Dr.-Bawumia.Download

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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.

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“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||Ghana