Port charges to be streamlined – finance minister


By Emmanuel AKOMEA

The Minister of Finance Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam has announced plans to streamline port charges following a visit to the Tema port and discussions with Customs officials and agents.

The decision seeks to tackle the multitude of charges at the country’s sea ports, curb duty evasion and address challenges in handling transit cargo. The move not only aims to facilitate smoother business transactions but also enhance the appeal of the country’s ports as transit hubs for goods.

“We have taken note of these concerns. As a government committed to fostering a business-friendly environment, we will work closely with relevant stakeholders to streamline port charges. We firmly believe that simplifying the process of clearing goods will attract more businesses, thereby increasing revenue for the state,” Dr. Adam said.

The minister praised the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority for its exceptional performance in revenue mobilisation. He thanked the dedicated employees for their hard work and commitment to efficiently and effectively collecting taxes.

“Let me commend you on behalf of the President of the Republic, on behalf of the people of Ghana for the sacrifices you continue to make, which has brought us this far in our development efforts. Your dedication to your work has been instrumental in driving our country’s economic growth and development,” he said.

The purpose of the visit was to gain firsthand insight into the facility’s daily operations and challenges, with the goal of exploring ways the government can support them in improving their performance in a more citizen-friendly manner.

He commended the staff for their professionalism and diligence in executing their duties, emphasising the significance of their role in ensuring the government has the required resources to fund vital services and projects.

Sharing the successes achieved for the last year and the first quarter of the current year, Christiana Odi Adjei, Sector Commander of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, reported that in 2023, the Tema team collected  a amount of GH¢24,399,349,418.96. This fell slightly short of the target of GH¢25,675,090,000 by GH¢1,275,740,581.04, representing a negative variance of 4.97 percent.

This means that the Customs Division achieved 95.03 percent of its target in 2023, she indicated. Moving forward to 2024, the Customs Division of GRA was assigned a target of GH¢48,080,370,739.63, out of which GH¢6,472,854,637.58 have been collected.

She highlighted that cargo weight verification has been a long-standing issue, but progress is underway with the installation of weighbridges by Ghana Link to verify cargo weight at the port.

Improved accountability measures for cleared and UCL cargo have also been implemented, with monitoring in ICUMS and regular reports. A green channel team monitors goods on the green selectivity channel to prevent abuses.

Challenges faced by the Customs Division include addressing issues with the suspense regime, monitoring transit goods and integrating auction and allocation processes into the mainstream structure to prevent cargo loss.

The Sector Commander noted that addressing these challenges requires legislation to empower Customs to request information on Letters of Credit (LOC) for export transactions, ensuring proper accountability for export proceeds.

Despite these challenges, the Customs Division, she reiterated, remains committed to excellence. Key areas of focus include implementing robust policies, fostering transparency and accountability to meet the demands of the modern global trading environment and generate revenue for the state.

In response, Dr. Adam expressed the government’s readiness to address the challenges facing the Authority. He encouraged GRA’s management to capitalise on existing opportunities to enhance their operations while implementing additional measures to improve their services further.

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