By Cecil Mensah
Members of the Joint Private Sector Business Consultative Forum, have serve notice to resist the introduction of the Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI) and the tax stamp to be introduced by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) next month.
The members of the group, have said that they are tired of being over burdened with numerous taxes and levies at the ports.
“Our businesses are dying slowly and many businesses have laid off workers as a result of the load shedding exercise, popularly called “Dumsor””, they contend.
The forum, made up of members of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Ghana Automobile Dealers’ Association, Ghana Union of Traders ‘ Association (GUTA), Food and Beverages Association and Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana.
The rest are Pharmaceutical Association of Ghana, Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana and Custom Brokers Association.
They said, the job duplications at the various ports of entry are crippling their businesses and hounding majority of their members out of business.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra to announce their displeasure about the introduction of the ASHI system, as well as the GCAP programme by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Mr George Kwesi Ofori, President of GUTA, said they have watched over the years with great dismay the way and manner in which the private sector was increasingly burdened with various taxes and policies, culminating in the collapse of businesses especially small and medium scale businesses.
He said, the over the years the private sector has been slapped with the 17.5 percent Value Added Tax, the introduction of the 17.5 percent financial services levy, two percent special levy on imports, rapid depreciation of the Cedi and one percent levy on imports by the Destination Inspection Companies (DIC).
He said, the rest are the payment for Conformity Assessment Programme to over fourteen state institutions and agencies, these institutions have all increased their fees by one hundred percent, the payment twenty thousand Dollars to the Food and Drugs Authority for site inspection among others are killing businesses.
He explained that what necessitated the call to defy the payment of certain duties at the port was the decision by GPHA to introduce ASHI by March 1, 2015, and its additional cost of doing business in the country.
He maintained that members of the association, will by March 4,2015 demonstrate to register their displeasure to the introduction of the extra levies at the ports and subsequently lay down their tools, if the government fails to rescind its decision.
He said, even though the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has stated its position on the suspension of GCAP, GSA, the regulatory agency for ensuring standards was still bent on implementing the programme.
He took the opportunity to appeal to the President, John Dramani Mahama, to intervene and work at reducing the cost and time of doing business at the various ports.
He further appealed to Parliament to be considerate in the way and manner in which some of these laws are passed in the House, i.e. Parlaiment.