Massive demo over ‘killer’ tariffs

Business News of Thursday, 26 February 2015

Source: Daily Guide

Business Orgs Demo

Private sector operators in the country have threatened to embark on a massive demonstration on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Accra to express their dissatisfaction with the numerous taxes being imposed on them by government.

According to them, the private sector is increasingly being overtaxed, culminating in the collapse of businesses, especially the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs).

The private sector groups that would be partaking in the massive demonstration include Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Ghana Automobile Dealers’ Association, as well as Importers and Exporters’ Association of Ghana.

Others are Ghana Union of Traders’ Association, Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, Ghana Pharmaceuticals Association, Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana and Custom Brokers Association of Ghana.

As part of efforts to compel government to address their grievances, they have announced that all entities should not operate on the day of demonstration.

George Kweku-Ofori, President of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), who was addressing the press on behalf of the joint Private Sector Business Consultative Forum in Accra yesterday said, “We have watched over the years with great dismay, the way and manner in which the private sector is increasingly being overburdened with various taxes and polices, culminating in the collapse of businesses, especially the small and medium scale businesses.

He said government has recently introduced 17.5 percent VAT, financial services levy, two percent special levy on imports.

Kwaku Ofori also cited the payment of $20,000 to the Food and Drugs Authority for site inspection, petroleum levy, over 80 percent increment in the cost of utilities.

The private sector businesses have vehemently kicked against the introduction of the Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI) and a tax stamp by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA).

Effective March 1, 2015, GSA will be introducing the Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI) and a tax stamp for all shipments for the seaports of Ghana, including transit cargo.

Each Bill of lading for maritime shipments to Ghanaian seaports would need to be covered by a validated ASHI document.

Kweku-Ofori said, “We are resisting the ASHI because it comes with additional cost. We want to state equivocally that we are tired with numerous taxes and levies. Our businesses are collapsing.

“Indeed, we are angry! In the past years, many businesses have painfully laid off workers as a result of the situation. We do not want to continue on this path, especially in times like this.”

He said, “We will therefore not be able to accept any additional bureaucracy and ASHI, G-CAP, among others”.

Kweku-Ofori appealed to President John Mahama to intervene and reduce the cost and time of doing business in the country.

“We must continue to be a preferred destination of choice for doing business rather than losing it to our neighbouring countries,” he said.

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