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Business News of Friday, 25 October 2013

Source: Daily Guide Network

Angry importers, agents to demonstrate

Angry importers and agents operating at the nation’s sea and airports will on Monday hit the streets to demonstrate against high import charges. The demonstration, which would take place in Tema, is expected to bring together all importers and agents across the country.

Speaking in an interview with CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE, Nana Kofi Opoku, Chairman of Concerned Importers and Agents Association, said the demonstration had become necessary due to numerous challenges faced by agents and importers at the ports.

He said attempts by members of the association to engage stakeholders proved futile. Mr. Opoku said goods would not be cleared at the ports on Monday as a result of the protest.

He cited delays in clearing containers, increases in import charges without adequate consultation and congestion, operations of Government Task Force and the demand by the authorities for foreign importers to go through the clearing process without preferential treatment as some of their challenges.

“We believe that as one of the stakeholders on the trade and maritime industry, we contribute greatly to the nation’s economic development.” He said the importation of goods had reduced drastically following the introduction of the special import levy by the government.

Mr. Poku stated “we go through a lot at the hands of people claiming to be members of the Task force. The presence of the national security men at the port has compounded things,” he added. He called on government to intervene in the matter to lessen the burden of members of the association at the ports.

There has been a lot of confusion between importers and clearing agents at the Tema Port since the implementation of the Special Import Levy (SIL) by officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

A number of importers are reluctant to pay the new levy, claiming many taxes imposed on their imported goods in recent times in the country’s ports would collapse their businesses. Prior to the introduction of the 2 percent SIL, goods like fertilizers, energy saving bulbs, bicycles, outboard motors and generators were free.

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