By Cecil Mensah
Hundreds of traders at Abossey Okai, a suburb in the Accra metropolis last Wednesday February 24, held a conference to register their protest against the 17.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed on import duties at the various port of entry.
The traders made up of the Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA), Food and Beverages Importers Association of Ghana, Ghana Automobile Dealers Association, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders,and Customs Brokers Association of Ghana.
The rest are, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana and Abossey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association, have directed its numerous members across the country to observe a three-day sit down strike until the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) suspends the nineteen taxes imposed on all import duties at the various entry points in the country.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Accra, George Ofori, President of GUTA; directed that all businesses and shops within the Abossey Okai spare parts dealing enclave be closed from Monday February 28, to Wednesday March 2, to press home their demands for the government to suspend the draconian taxes imposed on import duties since the beginning of the year.
According to the leadership of the group, nineteen taxes namely; stamp tax, special tax, VAT, bank charges, flat rate, Destination Inspection charges, even when the Destination Companies are no longer working at the port, are being charged at the port.
Mr. George Ofori, president of GUTA, mentioned the remaining charges as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAAS) common tariffs, post clearance audit and Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), parking levy as the charges pushing importers out of business under the leadership of President John Mahama.
He said, taxes are collapsing their business and government has failed to pay heed to the numerous calls to have the taxes suspended, hence the decision to strike.
We cannot continue to trade and operate under these conditions of killing businesses in the country duties at the various ports of entry for the three days that shops remain closed in the country.
We are, therefore, calling on all importers to instruct their clearing agents at the ports not to pay their duties during the time of the strike, Mr. Ofori said
He warned that a taskforce, has been commissioned by the joint private sector business consultative forum; the umbrella body of the associations of traders to monitor members complies with the directives to have shops closed in the region.
He gave the assurance that, leadership of the joint forum would meet on March 3, to evaluate the course of the strike if the government did heed to their demands.
He took the opportunity to apologize to their numerous customers for the inconvenience caused by their strike action.