Samson Awingobit Asaki, President of the Exporters and Importers Association of Ghana, has hinted of a regulatory vacuum in the maritime industry, which has led to tax, duties and charge uncertainties, corruption, and turf fighting among stakeholders.
According to him, importers pay in excess of $30 million as charges to regulators annually but very little is done with the resources.
Speaking recently in an interview with journalists, Mr. Asaki appealed to government to make the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) a private entity and redefine its role as an advocate of importers and exporters.
Adam Imoru Ayarna, Vice President, Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana (SOAAG), also called for a centralized fund to finance needed reforms in the maritime industry.
‘Such a fund would be fed by the many scattered bits of charges paid by stakeholders to some public entities whose activities tend to overlap each other and therefore slow down the pace of development in the maritime industry’.
The proposed fund, he noted, should be managed by fund managers under the direct supervision of probably Parliament or the Ministry of Transport while laws and regulations on the generation and disbursement of funds should be clear and unambiguous.
He said soon the already high cost of doing business at Ghana’s ports would increase further and would deter potential investors, reduce the investment by existing companies and reduce vessel calls, which could have a negative impact on port revenues and the national economy in general.
Mr Ayarna said recently the Ghana Maritime Authority stated that it had contracted a 15 million euro loan to implement the Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS), an integrated system to enhance continuous electronic surveillance of the entire coast of Ghana.
He said the system which is under the ambit of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) could easily have been funded by a maritime fund and would have saved the taxpayer a lot of money.
‘I would want such a fund to be managed by the Ghana Maritime Authority under the direction of Parliament. Since it would count as a public fund, the Auditor-General would audit it periodically and that would be one of the good things ever to happen to the maritime industry in a long while.’
By Samuel Boadi
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