Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd), Commissioner for Customs, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has clarified that the downward review of the benchmark values is part of measures to support local production of certain goods to ensure that the country does not forever depend on importation of those goods.
He said the downward review of the benchmark values was also in the interest of national development as it would help build the capacity of local industries to produce more.
He was speaking at a sensitisation workshop on benchmark values organised by the GRA for exporters and importers in Tamale.
It was to listen to the concerns of the exporters and importers on the review of the benchmark values to help in the assessment of the revenue measure.
The government in April, 2019 gave discounts on imports’ value where imports other than vehicles received 50 per cent of the value before the duties applied, and imports of vehicles received 30% of the value before the duties applied, which meant a reduction in the cost of imports.
While traders wanted the discounts to remain, members of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) wanted them removed completely.
In the 2022 budget presented to Parliament in November, 2021 the government indicated that it wanted to remove the discounts to take effect from January, 2022.
However, traders, members of AGI amongst others raised issues about the decision, and forcing government to ask for further engagements on the issue.
The GRA started engaging the stakeholders on the issue from the southern sector, and while the engagement was ongoing, government announced that effective March 01, it would reduce the benchmark values where in the case of goods, from 50% to 30% and in the case of vehicles, from 30% to 10%.
Concerns raised by exporters and importers during the sensitization workshop included the high cost of doing business, high cost of goods outside of the country, high shipment and freight charges and the depreciation of the Cedi and its effects on imports.
Colonel Damoah (Rtd) explained to the exporters and importers that “For national development’s sake and also for the sake of being able to produce certain things locally so that we do not depend forever on foreign imports but rather we build our own capacity to locally produce some of the things, then we need to sacrifice even if the cost of our locally produced ones are higher for now. We need to patronise their (local) goods so that with time, they can also reap the benefits of economics of scale to reduce their prices.”
Meanwhile, the exporters and importers were also sensitised on the E-Levey and the transfers that it applied to and the various exemptions under the levy that they could take advantage of, as well as the taxpayers’ portal.
Mr Seth Kwei, Officer from the Tamale East Taxpayer Service Centre of GRA, who made a presentation on the E-Levy, said “the E-Levy is meant for our common good” urging all to embrace it to broaden the tax net.
Madam Doreen Donkor, Northern Regional President of Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG) said TAGG wished that the benchmark values had remained to help reduce the prices of imports to reduce the rising cost of goods in the country.
Madam Donkor said TAGG was not against the E-Levy but rather its timing saying “Businesses are suffering and it is going to be eroding our capital.”