Benchmark Policy: Government urged to resolve impasse with data

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Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)
Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)

Mr Wallace Akundor, a Customs Tax Administration expert, has asked the Government to use “hardcore data” to resolve issues that have been raised about the implementation of the benchmark policy.

He noted that the challenge of implementing the 50 percent discount on 43 selected imported items and its reversal after two years, was because the decision was not backed by the needed data.

Already, the Government has met with both the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), leading to the suspension of the reversal of the implementation on the policy.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, he said, “technically, it’s [the benchmark policy] a wrong instrument to start with, because so far, in all the arguments that we’re making; the Government, AGI, and importers, all of them are not based on hardcore data.”

“It means that you have to make a value judgment between the interest of your local industries and the interest of your importers… and if you use assumption, you’ll get some right and you will get some wrong,” he explained.

Mr Akundor, noted that for the Government to satisfy the interest of all parties, and generate the needed revenue, it ought to critically analyse data from both sides and come up with short, medium and long term measures that would address all concerns.

“The tax policy should satisfy all, because all the interest groups are under government. Therefore, the government would need to confront them with the hardcore data…,” he emphasised.

He recommended that “tax measures should see to it that the statistical department comes up with assimilation and demonstration with both the importers and AGI, how the various tax scenarios will turn up, and allow them to challenge those assimilations…”

“Now, Ghana is implementing a regional external tariff. It means that the duty rate that apply in Ghana are common across all the ECOWAS countries. What we should have done, therefore, if we thought that the taxes were so high on are goods, is to go back to ECOWAS to negotiate downward,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Government has suspended the implementation of the reversal of the benchmark policy for wider consultations.

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