The Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service are on the heels of over 100 exporters over Letters of Commitment (LOC) infractions. According to the BoG, this move is part of efforts to ensure the repatriation of all export receipts into the country to aid build a resolute foreign reserve.
Already, these exporters have had their export accounts blocked by the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) – the platform for generating the LOCs – and some are currently being prosecuted for the breaches. The central bank since July 2016 incorporated the LOC into the electronic export monitoring platform to track export proceeds.
Speaking at a sensitisation workshop organised by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), the Deputy Director for Foreign Banking at the Banking Department of the Bank of Ghana, Eric Kwaku Hammond, said the central bank is keen on monitoring every pesewa that goes out of the country for export purposes – because the cedi’s stability hinges on repatriation of the monies.
“We need the exporters to repatriate the proceeds so that there will be enough foreign exchange to pay for our imports. The cedi is not a trading, reserve or convertible currency; therefore, if exporters don’t repatriate where we will get the needed foreign exchange to import?” he asked.
Undue blocking of accounts
Touching on why some exporters’ report that their accounts are blocked unduly, Mr. Hammond noted that such reports are investigated and where necessary rectified. He then advised the exporters to apply for extensions of the repatriation period when they are facing challenges.
“When the goods go out, the exporter has a 60-day repatriation period; and if there is a challenge the exporter can apply for another 60 days, and another 30 days if need be. My advice is that exporters meet the required 150-day repatriation period to avoid an automatic block from the ICUMS,” Mr. Hammond told the B&FT.
Head of Shipper Services and Trade Facilitation at the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), Naa Densua Aryeetey, told the media that the stakeholder engagement – which is not the first to be organised – came about as a result of incessant reports from exporters of their accounts being blocked.
She added that the platform is to educate as many exporters as possible on the dos and don’ts of LOCs; and the GSA believes they will further spread that education among their fold to engender compliance with the system in place.