Last week the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, visited the various container storage facilities in Tema to have a first have information about business activities there and discuss how best tax leakages could be blocked in a bid to increase revenue collection for the state
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, who was accompanied by the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Reverend Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, Commissioner, the National Security Coordinator, Major Gen, Rtd. Adu Amanfoh and the Deputy National Security Coordinator , Mr Edward Asomani and other high ranking security and port officials called on the Ghana Revenue Authority to do the best it can to block all tax leakages at the Tema ports in a bid to help government raise the needed revenue national development.
The visit took the team to the Atlas and Amaris terminals, as well as the Refrigerated Terminal operated by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that uncleared cargoes did not only create congestion but also led to holding back revenues that would have accrued to government if they were cleared on time by importers.
The team also assessed the challenges faced by the terminals in relation to the management and auctioning of cargoes on UCL and how such could be resolved.
Mr Ofori-Atta maintained that the sustainability of a robust digitised measure would ensure that human contacts were reduced or eliminated entirely, curb corruption and boost domestic revenue mobilisation.
The introduction of an automated system to guide the auctioning of containers on UCL, he explained, would also ensure a system of traceability and accountability.
He said the implementation of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) helped in raking in GH¢ 16.08 billion in total revenue to the country at the end of 2021 as against GH¢ 11.25 billion in 2019 prior to the ICUMS implementation.
However, the minister said there were still some loopholes which were being exploited by some members of the trading public, “and this we want to ensure will no longer be the norm”.
The Finance minister said he is concerned about the loss of revenue at the ports especially through the deliberate activities by some importers to evade tax sometimes with the assistance of some port officials. He said every Ghanaian is required to pay tax to help government develop the nation and government will not allow people to engage in activities that results in revenue losses at the ports.
Meanwhile, information indicates that The Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS), a trade facilitation tool, raked in GH¢ 16.08 billion in total revenue for government at the end of 2021 fiscal year .this is against GH¢ 11.25 billion revenue generated in 2019 from the port prior to the introduction of the ICUMS system.
the increase in revenue was facilitated by the introduction of the ICUMS system and digitisation of the port operations.
“Compared to the GH¢14.36 billion generated in 2020, this marks an increase of 27.6 per cent in revenue mobilisation by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the nation’s sea ports on a year-on-year basis,”
The increase in revenue through the ICUMs was in spite of impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on port activities in 2020 and 2021.
Customs revenue, prior to the implementation of ICUMS, for the period June 2019 to May 2020, stood at GH¢11.25 billion information from GRA indicates. Between June 2020, the start of ICUMS, and May 2021, teething challenges, ill-considered propaganda and the impact of COVID-19 on global trade notwithstanding, customs revenue increased by 27.6 per cent to GH¢14.36 billion.
It noted that customs revenue for 2021 stood at GH¢16.08 billion, as opposed to GH¢12.03 billion in 2019 when ICUMS had not been implemented.
ICUMS, generates for government between GH¢1.3 billion and GH¢ 1.4 billion every month. the ICUMS also helped to block revenue leakages at the port to the tune of GH¢6 billion.
By Kwabena Adu Koranteng
Financial and Economic Journalist