George Ofori (2nd left) speaking at the recent press confab
Traders have kicked against the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariffs (CET) at Ghana’s ports.
According to them, government has already overburdened Ghanaian traders with numerous taxes and therefore they would not accept the new ECOWAS tariff.
The External Tariff, which took off on Monday, February 1, 2016 at all ports across the sub-region, will ensure that importers who clear goods at the ports of Ghana pay tariffs similar to other ECOWAS members.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is implementing the CET after the passage of the Customs Amendment Act, 2015 (Act 905).
The implementation of the ECOWAS tariff will lead to an increase in the prices of some consumer goods at the market.
George Ofori, President of GUTA, who was addressing a press conference in Accra recently, said government will render traders bankrupt with the implementation of the CET.
“We are already paying a lot of high taxes at the ports…the question is; do we deserve an additional tax in the name of harmonization absolutely not!” he said.
Mr. Ofori appealed to the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to suspend it to allow for proper consultation with relevant stakeholders to build consensus for a smooth take off.
“Any attempt to impose it on us without proper consultation will be met with stiff resistance, as we are already oversaturated with numerous high taxes and levies that are making us intolerant to impositions,” he stated.
Mr. Ofori said since ECOWAS has not been fully integrated into a single state with one law, care must be taken in order not to jeopardize the good intention of the sub-regional leaders.
“Therefore, the existing sovereign laws of all member states regarding investment should be allowed to operate for now until we reach a stage where all our sovereign laws are harmonized or until the sub-region is fully integrated as an Economic Community of West African People.
“So instead of the short cut approach that is being sought, which will not help anybody, we are humbly appealing to our sub-regional leaders to rather expedite action on the integration programme so as to put rest the hullabaloo about the sovereignty of member states.”
CET Won’t Be Suspended
Meanwhile, a source at the Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs Divisions, said the CET will not be suspended in spite of agitations by the traders.
According to the authority, CET has been authorized by parliament and therefore its implementation cannot be suspended.
However, the authority revealed that plans were underway to meet members of GUTA to address their grievances.
By Cephas Larbi