The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has said it will release impounded used refrigerators and air conditioners which entered the country before December 31, 2012 to the importers.
It said any refrigerator which bears the number starting 1300000, signifying that it was imported into the country this year, would, however, be impounded and destroyed.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the GRA’s Head Chief Collector Outdoor (CCOD) at the Takoradi Port, Mr Felix Mate-Kodjo, said in releasing the items, the GRA would adhere strictly to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that obligated importers to register with it and obtain permit for their imports and the quota system for dealers in those products.
He explained that the first two digits represented the year of arrival and added that the GRA would ensure that the importers complied with the rules and that even though the seized cargoes were being released, those at the port with 1300000 embossments would not.
He said the decision to release the millions of used refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners and incandescent filament lamps currently impounded was taken with the consideration that the vessels entered the ports before December 31, 2012.
In the past week, there was tension between the port authorities and GRA destination inspectors, on the one hand, and agents and importers, on the other, over the implementation of LI 1932 of 2008 which bans the importation of used refrigerators from January 1, 2013.
Mr Mate-Kodjo said the ban was not limited to only the importation of the listed cargo but also the prohibition of manufacture, sale or importation of incandescent filament lamps.
He said even though the ban was promulgated in 2008, it came with a deadline and it was expected that by now the dealers would not continue the import.
“As far back as April 2012, the Ministry of Trade and Industry informed the public that all importers of used refrigerators, used freezers, among others, were to obtain permit from the EPA before clearing the goods,” he said.
He said the importers were also given quotations as to the quantity that could be imported by each importer after properly registering with the EPA.
When contacted, the Western Regional officer in charge of the EPA, Mr Safo Agyei, said when the announcement was made, importers in the region were urged to register but many of them did not.
Interestingly, when the Daily Graphic moved to town, some people were seriously buying used fridges, claiming they were sure that the law would soon be relaxed.
Kofi Panyin, a dealer in used fridges, asked the reporter if he had ever seen a law that worked in Ghana.
“Very soon they will forget the law and we will have our way. They said we should not bring mattresses, but look all around you, is that not mattress? We just brought them from the port so don’t worry my brother,” he said.