Business News of Thursday, 6 December 2012
Mr Robert Mensah, Chief Collector of the Tema Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in charge of Tax Education, has called for the periodic review of the operations of the Free Zones Concept, to ensure that its prime objectives as a tool for trade facilitation, and investment, were achieved.
Mr Mensah made the call at a tax education seminar on the Suspense Regime organised for stakeholders in the Metropolis, by the Tema Sector of Customs, to equip them with knowledge and skills about the Regime.
Mr Mensah whose topics were Free Zones; Transit and Warehousing, explained that the Free Zones Concept, a private-sector driven programme, was introduced as a gateway project to make Ghana a gateway to West Africa, through trade facilitation and investment.
The Chief Collector pointed out that the operations of Free Zones were regulated by the National Laws of the host nation, adding that in Ghana the regulatory authority was the Ghana Free Zones Board, operating jointly by the Free Zones Act, the Free Zones Amendment Act, and the Free Zones Regulations.
Touching on Transit, Mr Mensah explained that Transit Trade was a Customs Regime by which goods destined for other countries, entered the country through one entry point and left the country by road or rail through another entry/exit point.
These procedures, he said, “are intended to protect the revenue of the country of transit, and to avoid the circumstances where goods intended for transit are leaked into the domestic market.”
Turning to Warehousing, the Chief Collector explained that it was a Customs Regime by which imported goods were stored under customs control in a government or private bonded warehouse, without the payment of import duty and other taxes on the goods at the entry point, until the goods were entered for home consumption, or until such goods were –re-exported or otherwise disposed of.
He explained that raw materials, perishable and general goods may be stored in a bonded warehouse for specified periods.
Mr Mensah said while raw materials could be warehoused up to two years, perishables had a three-month period, with general goods having one year warehousing period.
Goods in a Warehouse, he said, may be entered for home consumption, removed to another warehouse, re-exported, re-entered into a free zone, among other transactions, explaining that this system “enables the importer to defer payment of taxes and also offers the advantage of accessing both local and foreign markets without payment of customs duties without any loss of money in respect of duty.”
Mr Mensah said, while small traders could hold large stocks of goods under Warehousing, some of its demerits were that the deferment of revenue payments represented a great loss to the state; writing off of duty was loss of revenue; with the final consumer bearing the extra cost.
During open forum, the seminar participants suggested that such forums be held regularly and constantly by the Customs Division of GRA to help equip and upgrade knowledge and skills of stakeholders on Customs Procedures or Regimes.