Hear the cry of local manufacturers

GRA outlines 8 strategies to boost tax revenue collection

When government introduced the benchmark value policy in 2019, it did so based on, at least, two reasons: namely to boost domestic revenue; and to discourage misclassification and stop under-invoicing.

Government was hopeful that reducing the duties importers pay at the ports would automatically increase the volumes of imports; thereby compensating for the revenue lost, and even adding more to it.

However, two years after the policy was introduced nothing close to that has been achieved. Revenues keep declining, misclassification and under-invoicing still take place; and worst of all, the policy is killing some local industries.

A few days ago, one of the leading companies in vegetable oil production, Wilmar Africa, shut down its plant; mainly due to the impact the benchmark value policy is having on its operations. That’s not all – local rice farmers have also flashed the red flag, saying their industry is on the brink of collapse due to the benchmark policy.

And with the country seeking to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), trade experts have started warning about the possibility of losing out on the market should the policy continue to exist.

“Reversing the benchmark policy is actually beneficial for local production because it is going to increase the cost of imports, and this will move people to patronise locally produced goods. And it is going to help with the AfCFTA, because the goal is to help Ghanaian traders export locally produced goods on the market.

“So, one of the ways that the AfCFTA will become effective is to increase the cost of imported goods; so that it will help local consumption and the whole goal of exporting locally produced goods out of Ghana will be in effect. This policy will not affect parties to the AfCFTA agreement, because there are provisions for countries that are parties to the agreement. What it will really do is help local producers,” international trade expert Maame Awinador Kanyirige told the B&FT in an interview.

It is fair to note that government reversed the benchmark value on some 43 items in the 2022 budget. But after facing severe pressure from the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), government suspended the policy just a few days of its implementation.

It is our opinion that this defeats government’s own vision of building a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’; a goal that can only be achieved through industrialisation. But as long as the benchmark value policy exists, that vision will seem far-fetched and continue to remain nothing more than a mere mantra to tickle ourselves and laugh.

So Mr. President, Mr. Finance Minister and Mr. Trade Minister, please hear the cry of local manufactures and make a decision that will be in their favour and push this economy ‘Beyond Aid’.

Let cool heads prevail

Public universities across the country face the risk of a mass shutdown as the strike embarked upon by University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) enters its third consecutive week.

The industrial action by lecturers is already derailing academic work; hence, we think government should act timeously to prevent its escalation.

The strike is nearing its 21-day ultimatum for the continuous suspension of academic activities. By statute, public universities must be closed down after 21 days of non-academic work.

UTAG resolved to continue its strike unabated, despite the National Labour Commission (NLC) declaring the industrial action to be illegal. UTAG embarked on the industrial action on Monday, January 10, 2022 – citing government’s failure to comply with a roadmap for conditions of service that both parties had agreed on.

After a meeting with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) and National Labour Commission (NLC), the strike by UTAG was declared illegal.

According to the NLC, the Association did not follow the laid-down procedures in declaring the strike. UTAG was therefore directed to resume work.

We think that cool heads must prevail during these trying times. Strike actions do not help students, learning and teaching. It is against this background that this Paper finds it prudent to call on government to, as a matter of urgency, address the issues on the table for an amicable solution to the impasse

Let all the parties respect each other to iron-out the differences and see to it that striking lectures return to the classroom for learning and teaching to continue as soon as possible.

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