Last year, shippers paid less than what they did in 2017 to shipping lines for undue grounding and detention of containers after the mandatory free periods.
This, however, means that demurrage declined by 22.4 per cent to US$59 million by the end of 2018, an indication that the shipper education and sensitisation programme initiated by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) is already paying off.
Despite gains in demurrage, data from the Research Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) showed that rent payments by shippers on the other hand rather increased by 3.2 per cent from GH¢48.1 million in 2017 to GH¢49.9 million in 2018.
At the shipping quarter and outlook 2019 on February 20 in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck, said demurrage and rent payments were avoidable costs which needed to be addressed with diligence.
“Container demurrage and rent are avoidable payments at the ports. If shippers are able to clear their cargo generally within first seven days free period, they do not have to pay container demurrage or rent.
“These are costs that could be avoided with a little more diligence on the part of shippers and key stakeholders,” the CEO indicated.
She explained that the reduction in container demurrage and rent payments had been a priority of the authority and it had rigorously pursued this through shipper education and sensitisation.
According to her, it was gratifying to note that container demurrage payments at the ports of Tema and Takoradi reduced from US$76 million to US$59 million in 2018.
However, she stated that the general storage rent payments at the ports of Tema and Takoradi increased from GHȼ48.1 million in 2017 to GHȼ49.9 million in 2018.
She observed that the 3.2 per cent was also an indication of the slowing down of the storage rent payments due to the increased education and sensitisation.
“There is the need, therefore, to continue shipper education and sensitisation in this area,” she added.
Paperless port clearance
Ms Bismarck noted that the paperless port system was a measure introduced in 2017 to transform port processes and procedures by the use of a digital platform.
Since its implementation, she stated, the complex paper transactions had been replaced with an online platform which was integrated with the systems of shipping service providers, regulatory agencies and allied banks.
That, she said, had facilitated the cargo clearance process at the ports.
“At a recently organised programme by the GSA to assess the paperless port system, one year after its implementation, the system was assessed to be largely successful in spite of a few challenges.
“The authority will continue to educate and sensitise shippers toon the need to operate within the framework of the system and to report challenges for speedy resolution,” she added.
Tax stamp policy
The Ministry of Finance through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) began the full implementation of the tax stamp policy in March 2018.
The policy was not without its challenges. However, continuous education, the authority believed, was the key to the success of the programme.
The last quarter of 2018 witnessed a more vigorous enforcement of the policy and we believe things will stabilise sooner than later. The punitive measures of non-compliance include detention, seizure and imposition of 300 per cent penalty of duties and taxes involved.
Importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers who fall under this tax regime are advised to comply with the provisions of the Excise Tax Stamp Act, 2013 Act 873 to avoid these penalties.