THE Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has given a strong backing for the implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) system which is to assist the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to monitor the specification of goods from the country of origin.
Experience at the ports, he explained, indicated that clearing agents and some importers colluded to provide false invoices and manifest leading to huge revenue losses.
To remedy this situation, Mr Ofori-Atta said the system was to allow the GRA to have access to cargo information for all imports before the vessels arrive in the country.
Presenting the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the 2018 Budget Statement to Parliament on July 19, the Finance Minister said this measure would enable the GRA to close the information gap between Ghana Custo
But the importing community has expressed worry about the recent implementation of the new system after it was suspended indefinitely in February this year.
Players in the shipping business for instance have threatened legal action against the government should the implementation of the system continue at the port.
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) indicated that it would seek legal action to register their disagreement over the CTN policy. It argues that the CTN is not only a duplication of the existing platform but will also increase the cost of doing business at the port.
The GIFF President, Mr Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah,addressing a press conference in Accra on July 17, said the GIFF might head to court to stop the GRA from continuing with the CTN implementation.
''With all this confusion that has been thrown into the shipping sub-sector, we are losing out. And once these traders get comfortable with another route, we are finished,'' he said.
He explained that the CTN was not only a duplication of the existing revenue collection platforms but would increase the cost of doing business at the port.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA) has also condemned the government’s decision to implement the CTN policy in July this year despite an earlier disagreement with stakeholders over its implementation.
The President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, who also spoke at the press conference, said the business community could no longer sit and contend with the unpredictable environment that had been created by policy experimentations.
He said the government was implementing policies such as the Easy Pass, the Common External Tariff (CET) and the CTN that had not been well thought through and was as a result burdening traders with undue fees and extra charges at the country’s sea ports.
“These interventions are being pushed down the throat of the trader with little or no consideration to the historical discussions that preceded and the likely effect on businesses, which is most unfortunate.
“It is even more unfortunate that the policy makers refuse to do anything about the already high cost of doing business, the astronomical rate of duty, fees, levies and charges that accumulate to about 50 to 65 per cent of our import capital,” he said.
The CTN is a platform by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for collection and management of commercials and logistical information relating to a cargo and ship from the port of loading before it arrives in the country.
Dr Obeng said although traders in the country had complied with all the policies implemented previously, “we shall not allow any experiment without factoring our inputs to ensure success, reliability and sustainability.
“Even the more confusing is the fact that the Vice-President, in his wisdom, suspended the implementation of the CTN on May 28, 2018 only for same to be publicised by the GRA for its implementation affective July 1, 2018 without regard for the concerns of relevant stakeholders.”
He, therefore, called on the government to suspend the implementation of the CTN until proper deliberations were held with all relevant stakeholders in order to achieve the set goals of the policy.
“If these concerns of the trading public are not given the serious attention they deserve, it is our resolve then not to accept the implementation,” he noted. — GB