A visit at Gonokrom in the Western Region, a border town with the Ivory Coast by investigative team from Public Agenda over the weekend revealed a shocking and unbelievable spectacular scene where number of articulator truck-loads of essential commodities have been seized by the customs officials at the check point of the border as a result of heavy duty taxes slap on businessmen and their inability to pay for their onward discharge to their final destination.
Probe indicates that some articulator trucks loaded with assorted goods and raw materials have been seized and parked at the border as far back as three months since the owners of such goods who made the import have no funds to pay for import duty taxes demanded by the outfit of the Customs, Exercise and Preventive Services.
Narrating his agony to Public Agenda at the Gonokrom border check-point, a businessman from Kumasi, Mr. Akwasi Prempeh an importer of P.B.C. pipes and general goods from Ivory Coast into the country claimed that the current overwhelming increase in import duties is collapsing lot of business enterprise and dumping the spirit of businessmen to carry out their activities to support the socio-economic development of the country.
Prempeh who is the Managing Director of M/S Kiskiss Co. Ltd. in Kumasi told Public Agenda that custom officials at Gonokrom border has since three months seized his articulator truck which was fully loaded with goods from Ivory Coast to Ghana (Kumasi to be précised), since he could not afford the duty tax slapped on him.
Agyeman expressed worry that today, import duties have been woefully increased, stressing that container which was being charged Gh¢25,000.00 in 2016 is now increased to Gh¢40,000.00, but no specific explanation are given to importers expect that the custom officials simply tell businessmen that the assessment of import duty taxes only comes from the head office but as to what criteria the customs head office apply to reach such high taxes also remains mystery.
According to him, the situation is pushing lot of businessmen away from active business adding that apart from the seizure of goods, some businessmen pay as much as CFA 200,000 daily to the owners of the articulator trucks who release their trucks for them on hiring basis.
Mr. Prempeh also hinted that most of the importers operate through bank loans with high interest rates, and questioned, if our goods have been seized for three months where are we going to get money to pay for the loans, workers’ salaries and how can we cater for our families. “These custom officials take our invoices for onward transfer to Accra office for duty tax assessment, but it is shocking to note that the invoice lasts in Accra for three months without feedback and even if there is feedback, the tax payment is so high that the businessmen have to leave the goods and make move to seek loan somewhere for the clearance.
Mr. Prempeh however was very critical to understand why the NPP administration which claims, has come to reduce various taxes now turns to cripple importers who are also partly a backbone of national growth with heavy import duty taxes. But the Kiskiss Director’s suspicion heightens, as he alleged that the conduct of some Directors and other heads of institutions appear to be applying some mechanism to dent the reputation of the incumbent government, making people, especially businessmen to feel disappointed for voting NPP into power.
He alleged further that most of the Directors and heads of institutions were appointed by the previous government who are allegedly currently operating under the guise of the National Democratic Congress to undermine the integrity of Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo’s government by using vicious schemes and plots to deny businessmen and other Ghanaians from contributing positively towards sound economic environment.
On this note Mr. Prempeh earnestly appeal to the government to do something about the plight of the importers whose goods, including bags of Rice, Sugar, edible oil, detergents, raw materials among others have been seized at Gonokrom border check point before they force themselves out from business to the disadvantage of many Ghanaians who benefit from their services.