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Business News of Monday, 18 January 2021

Source: Business 24

Relief for importers as GSA backtracks on fee increment

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has rescinded its decision to start the implementation of its revised registration fees for freight forwarders and general importers—originally scheduled for the start of this month—to allow for more stakeholder consultations and buy-in.

“No changes to the charges; the [old] charges have been maintained,” Director-General of the Authority Prof. Alex Dodoo told a gathering of importers in Accra.

This was the outcome of a stakeholder meeting convened by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority in Accra to dialogue on the revised rates.

The Standards Authority, in December last year, announced that it would start the implementation of its new fees and charges effective January 1 this year.

The increases ranged from GH¢1,000 to GH¢5,000 annually for importers of goods such as gaming items, industrial machinery and cement, to GH¢20,000 for shopping malls, who are considered big importers.

Approval for the new fees and charges was given by Parliament in August 2019 for implementation in the year 2020 for a select group of items, but implementation was delayed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses.

Despite the year-long delay, President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) Dr. Joseph Obeng—and other associations including the Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana (FFAG) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI)—argued that they will need more time for their businesses to recover from the shocks of the pandemic.

He mentioned the negative impact of COVID-19 on businesses and the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as key reasons for their position.

Freight forwarders had earlier indicated strongly that the proposed increment would be borne by consumers as it could lead to a spike in import prices.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disruptive impact on global supply chains and international trade, with the total volume of cargo—both containerised and general—handled by the country’s two seaports in the first quarter of 2020 decreasing by a whopping 44.9 percent year-on-year.

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