Reversal of benchmark value wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision – Okyere Baafi

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Deputy Trade Minister, Michael Okyere Baafi, has said that adequate stakeholder consultations and engagements were carried out on the decision to reverse the benchmark value.

He said stakeholders were fully aware pf the decision and asked all the necessary questions that needed to be asked. All answers, he said, were provided to the questions hence, this is not a surprise to them.

The Member of Parliament for New Juaben South told TV3’s Komla Klutse in an interview on Wednesday January 5 that “I can tell you that we have had a lot of meetings, a lot of engagements with stakeholders as far as this arrangement is concerned. We have met those in the rice business, those in the cement business, we have met GUTA.

“We have done a lot of stakeholder engagements to be able to sensitize them on this new policy. We gave them a lot of education on it, they asked all the questions they needed to ask, they wanted to understand the situation and we explained to them, detailed.

“So nobody can tell us they they just work then government has started a new policy, no . They knew the policy was going to take effect from the 4th.”

The reversal which has been deferred to Thursday January 6, from the original Tuesday January 4 date, 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 the reversal has also been rejected by IEAG.

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

According to the IEAG, this 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.

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