THE Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, has commended three government agencies for their contributions to make Ghana's corridor a prefered choice for transit trade within the West African sub-region.
These agencies, the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), are doing the best under the circumstances to grow the transit business which has slumped to a record low due to a combination of factors. One of the major factors for the decline is the diversion of goods meant for landlocked countries onto the local market, which results in the loss of revenue to the state.
Mr Titus-Glover made the comment at a seminar on transit trade jointly organised by the GSA and GRA on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 in Accra.
The seminar, which was on the theme: "Streamlining processes for the growth of Transit Trade in Ghana,” seeks to redefine operational requirements and re-emphasise effective customs control within the dual objective of revenue assurance and trade facilitation.
To complement efforts by the three agencies, Mr Titus-Glover observed that the government would this year step up efforts to crack down on criminals involved in transit goods diversion and it related activities.
"This year is an action year and I am warning the criminals and their associates that when the law catches them they should not ask me to plead on their behalf because I would not be able to help them. We know the nation wreckers because they use service providers in the ports. Let me warn you. When you are caught, do not call any politician," he said.
In the name of transit, the Commissioner of the Customs Division of GRA, Mr Isaac Crentsil, indicated that goods had been imported into Ghana, processed under the transit regime purportedly in transit to either Burkina Faso, Niger or Mali, only to be diverted into the local market.
“These goods, which are most often high duty goods, are either discharged on the way in Kumasi or even discharged in some remote corners in Accra.
“The unfortunate and damaging effect these diversions are causing the Ghanaian economy is that it denies the government the much needed revenue for development,” he said.
Another effect of the diversions, he noted, was that “it gives the government false statistics, which is very dangerous for planning purposes. It gives wrong figures for goods purported to have been imported into the country and those transiting Ghana for a particular year. Customs has taken several steps to halt these abuses but in vain. From human escorts to tracking machines, the offenders have continued to outwit customs and to deny the government of revenue. It has, therefore, become necessary to change gear, take further steps to streamline the transit trade processes,” he said.
Benefits from transit business
The Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck, stated that the transit business over the years had become a significant component of Ghana’s seaborne trade and had delivered tangible benefits to the economy of Ghana.
She said contrary to the widely held perception that Ghana did not derive any benefits from the transit trade through its corridors, the outcome of a GSA study in 2015 showed that tangible financial benefits accrued to operators along the transit logistics chain.
Transit trade volumes in the said year accounted for approximately one million metric tons out of Ghana’s cargo throughput of 17 million metric tons.
The study showed an estimated total revenue of US$24 million (GH¢94 million) accrued to the Ghanaian economy from some of the quantifiable services provided by various operators involved in the delivery of transit services
"These were payments for services in relation to the handling of transit cargo from both Tema and Takoradi Ports, State Insurance Company (SIC) - the national guarantor for the bond value, fees to Ghanaian haulage truckers, operators of the electronic tracking device and for freight forwarders services.
Ms Bismarck observed that there were a number of other entities that benefited directly from transit trade, including fuel outlets, hotels and restaurants operators.
"All these help boost the economy and enhance the livelihood of Ghanaians," she added.