Scrap “nuisance” taxes on transit goods—GPHA boss

March 16, 2017
Source: Patrick PAINTSIL/thebftonline.com/Ghana
Scrap “nuisance” taxes on transit goods—GPHA boss

Acting Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Paul Ansah-Asare, has called on government to consider the removal of what he describes as “nuisance taxes and duties” on transit cargoes that are moved through the country’s seaports.

Traders from the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger who cart their import/export cargoes through the Tema and Takoradi ports currently pay a tax of between 12 to 18 percent on their consignment, aside the mandatory duties payable at the port.

Additionally, there is road user tax of US$200 per transit export transaction; and according to Mr. Ansah-Asare, these taxes are undermining government’s efforts at courting more transit transactions.

Addressing the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism on a working visit to the port, Mr. Ansah-Asare indicated: “If we are able to remove these taxes, we can attract more transit business through our ports.

This will translate to increased revenue for government and people in the port industry value chain such as truckers and warehouse operators. The value of these taxes not being there are far higher than they being there.”

Transit trade through Ghana’s ports contributes to the national economy through job-creation-- specifically truck drivers, mates and dockworkers in the areas of trucking services—and largely government revenue from the sector.

According to data from the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, the haulage sector provides an average of 97,000 trucking jobs -- drivers and mates -- per year for the northbound transportation of transit cargo destined for the Sahelian countries, generating a yearly income in the range of US$81million for local haulage companies.

But after seeing a commendable eight-fold growth from 100,000 metric tonnes in 1999 to 800,000 in 2005, transit trade figures have been on the downside in recent years -- with 2014 figures showing a further decrease of 290,859 compared to the 2005 figure.

Industry players blame the continual decline on rampant extortions, numerous checkpoints along transit routes and the implementation of the 60-tonnes axle- load policy on the back of the aforementioned taxes.

The trade, however, saw a rise last year owing to improved confidence of shippers in the landlocked countries about the Ghanaian economy.

Figures from the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), indicates that total transit and transshipment figures as at the third quarter of 2016 stood at 772,744 metric tonnes, which is a 12.23 percent rise over the 2015 figure of 688,565 metric tonnes within the same period.