The ‘First Port Rule’, an arrangement that allows Customs officials from neighbouring landlocked countries Burkina Faso and Mali to set up desks at Ghana’s ports to collect taxes on transit goods, will become operational by the end of March this year.
Mr. Isaac Crentsil, Commissioner of the Customs Division, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), said they are ready to ensure its smooth and successful operation.
He was speaking at a sensitisation seminar on transit trade held for stakeholders in the maritime trade and transport industry in Accra.
‘Transit goods’ refers to goods that are imported through a country’s port, discharged by the ports’ agencies, processed by Customs officials, released and transported through a country’s territory to exit points to the destination countries.
‘Streamlining processes for the growth of transit trade in Ghana’, was the theme chosen for the programme.
It sought to highlight the need for effective Customs controls toward achieving the dual-objective of revenue assurance and trade facilitation.
Mr. Crentsil said: “These steps are all aimed at ensuring that Ghana’s government gets all the revenue due the state, and duty paid on all goods actually consumed in Ghana.
“It will also ensure that the neighbouring countries actually receive goods that leave our ports in transit get to such countries rather than being diverted.”
He added that blocking revenue leakages would enable government to expand the ports’ infrastructure to receive more cargo from abroad in transit trade.
Ghana will see high tax growth on transit trade when all fraudulent transactions at the ports cease.
Mr. Crentsil underlined the GRA’s determination to go the extra mile to exceed its collection target this year.
He exhorted all port institutions to accept playing their roles effectively to achieve the goal.
Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, Commissioner-General of the GRA, said their focus is to strengthen processes for growth of transit trade in the country.
The president’s agenda of moving ‘Ghana beyond aid’ can be achieved if all the revenue leakages are sealed and revenues due the state collected.
He said with sufficient funds government can successfully implement its flagship programmes – Free Senior High School, Planting for Food and Jobs and other social interventions to make things better for everybody.
He asked that everything be done to prevent diversion of transit cargo so that the nation can mobilise funds for development.
Transit trade should be a win-win for both Ghana and its landlocked neighbours.
He called for streamlining of processes in handling transit goods, from the time of discharge to the final destination.
He said, with time, transit goods will be transported in containerised vehicles – except for bulky goods such as iron rods.