An Assistant Commissioner of CEPS, Mr. John Vianney Kundamnuru has stated that the numerous challenges and delays importers encounter at the ports would be drastically reduced if importers stop faking invoices.
He alleged on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show that importers spend longer time clearing their goods because of under invoicing.
“Some of the importers when they import their goods they are given invoices by their suppliers; some of them hide these invoices and create their own invoices, making evaluation very difficult. If everybody were to go with what is given, I think these problems would be a thing of the past,” he said.
Mr Vianney Kundamnuru disclosed that “If you check with the destination inspection company who are currently doing the evaluation they will tell you that about 85 to 95% of the invoices presented are fake, that is where the problem is.”
Touching on duplication of work by CEPS and the Destination Inspection Company (DIC), he conceded, “yes in some cases there might be duplication, [but] I will also add that when two people are working on one item it makes it easier for the right tax to be collected”.
He said both the DIC and CEPs have been mandated by the government to evaluate and classify imported goods to ensure that the appropriate tax is paid.
He, however, defined valuation at the port as a “very complex item”; importers also have to meet certain conditions set by CEPS under classification: the classification determines the actual duties importers have to pay on their goods.
“But if you don’t meet those conditions then we have to use [one of six] other methods of valuation to arrive at the value of the goods,” he added.
Explaining the duplication further, he said the original mandate of CEPS is valuation and classification, “Because we have the benefit of the goods in front of us so we are able to determine the value as well as the classification. The DIC do whatever they do based on mere documents so that is why in certain cases when goods are being cleared at the ports, customs raises a question of value where we think that the value indicated by the inspection company is not right, also the same thing for classification.”
He, however, indicated that Minister of Finance has stated that the contract of DIC will not be renewed when it expired, adding that CEPS has set up a committee planning the takeover.
But his claim that a majority 85% of importers are faking invoices was disputed by the CEO of the On-Time Shipping Services, Tema, Jacob Agyeman who claimed the figure is far lower than the 85% put out.
He charged the port authorities to work to reduce overhead costs at the ports which also determines how much the final consumer pays for goods and services.
He also wants a certain degree of trust built among government mandated institutions to make doing business at the ports more effective and efficient.
Jacob Agyeman said the problems at the ports were getting worse even though the authorities claim they are solving them. In fact the cost of doing business at the ports has increased, he asserted.
Owing to that, many, especially the Francophones, now prefer using ports in neighbouring countries, because they feel the environment there is comfortable and they have no problems with language and currency like in Ghana.
A National executive of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), Ben Yeboah who was also on the show was concerned about the lack of trust among the state institutions at the ports, where he said they try to discredit each other with allegations of corruption.
“The institutions themselves are not trustworthy. I don’t see why institutions are put in place for the institutions to prove their worth [only to] put hindrances in the way of the other.”