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General News of Wednesday, 11 April 2018


Customs Division of GRA educates warehouse operators on new regime

The Accra Collection of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority yesterday organised a sensitisation seminar on review of suspense regimes for warehouse operators.

The seminar was to educate the operators on the new requirements and seek their inputs to ensure the smooth implementation of the law.

The customs suspense regime permits importers to suspend payment of import duties because the imports are to be kept in bonded warehouses.

However, with the passage of the Customs Amendment Act in 2017, the law provides additional requirements of the bonded warehousing of goods, including letters of credit and bank guarantees.

Mr Daniel Nuer, a representative of the Ministry of Finance Tax Policy Unit, said government’s strategy to shift the focus of economic policy from taxation to production comes with the need to broaden the tax base and ensure compliance and lessen the tax burden on compliant taxpayers.

Accordingly, in 2018, government has introduced a number of revenue policy initiatives and tax compliance measures to ensure that the tax burden was evenly distributed.

He said to reform the warehousing regime to reduce abuse and the risk to revenue, importers would be required to submit letters of credit, guarantees or insurance cover from participating financial institutions before their goods were warehoused.

Mr Nuer said the current challenges of the warehouse system included ex-warehousing without notifying customs, ex-warehousing without payment of requisite duties, overstayed goods, and accumulation of huge arrears.

He said the implementation of the policy would require current defaulters to settle all their arrears, including penalties before they would be permitted to warehouse additional goods.

Mr Michael Sakyi, Head of Special Surveillance and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Finance, said the review was necessary to enhance trade facilitation and ensure compliance.

He said it was government’s plan to enhance revenue generation to speed up the process of development.

Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Programmes, GRA, Mr Richard Yawutse said the review sought to provide the Commissioner-General a little bit more space within the provisions in the budget to improve compliance.

He said the existing controls in the warehouse regime would still apply, such as the customs bonds, but only that the Commissioner-General now has the dispensation to apply the new measures, especially on those who were not complying.

Mr Yawutse said the level of abuse of the current warehouse regime was fairly high.

“The mere fact that when we conduct audit there are outstanding balances and, in one way or the other, there is evasion of tax and huge arrears means that there is a high level of abuse,” he added.

Participants at the seminar called for more education to enhance understanding of stakeholders before the implementation of the review.

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