Doing business at the Ports is becoming expensive, Mr Yaw Kyei, President of the Association of Customs House Agents Ghana (ACHAG) has revealed during the Association’s second Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Mr Kyei stated that the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) had increased its charges on a 40-footer container from GHs$1,971.00 in January 2022, to GHs$3,348.00 representing a 70 per cent increment; the Meridian Ports Services (MPS) also effected a 13.50 per cent increment from GHs1,158.00 to USD$1,315.00 within the same period.
Again, the GHs4,000 charged by the shipping lines on the 40-foot containers in January had seen a 180 per cent increase to GHs11,000.00 currently.
Giving examples of some items, Mr Kyei said “last year, June 2021, a 20-foot container of 15kg margarine was cleared at the cost of GHs52,900.00, and this November, the same product is cleared at GHs64,508.20.
“A 20-foot container of bathing soap (180grams) was cleared during the same periods for GHs74,120.00 and now GHs104,780.00.”
He revealed that a Toyota Hiace van, age 2002, 2400cc was cleared in January 2022 at GHs17,739.11, while a vehicle of the same features costs GHs46,337.00 in October 2022 adding that a Toyota Yaris, 2008 model, cc1000 was cleared in January 2022 at GHs7,894.52 and a vehicle of same features costs GHs15,551.98 as at now.
The ACHAG President said also that, “on transportation of goods, sourcing from the Tema Main Harbour Drivers Association rates, a 40-foot container from Tema to Accra was GHs1,356.00 in March this year and as of today, its GHs3,598.00; Kumasi was GHs4,475.00 and now it’s GHs11,093.00; Tamale was GHs10,918.00 and today its GHs25,510.00.”
Touching on other issues, he lamented that the industry was boiling with issues that threatened the existence of businesses nationwide and globally.
He said their clients were having a hard time importing goods because of the fast depreciation of the cedi, the effects of the global supply chain, especially on freight charges, effects of COVID-19 and the Russian-Ukraine war.
“At our doorsteps, we have taken up arms against the arbitrary revision of the benchmark values with some values uplifted to as much as 100 percent without discussions and prior notification.
“Our clients were caught pants down – some had their goods at the port, some on the high seas, and some yet to be shipped. All of a sudden on a Monday morning, we were asked to pay additional duties-in most cases 100 percent more in terms of duties,” he said.
Mr Kyei said all these setbacks in business have drastically reduced volumes of cargo through the Ports, as according to him, a visit to the Port showed that there was a drastic 40 percent reduction in the volume of trade.
He said the effects of these challenges were the ever-increasing costs of goods, hoarding, an increase in smuggling, and a poor reflection on operations in their offices.
Dr Joseph Obeng, President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), speaking as the special guest at the AGM said the taxes businesses were paying in Ghana were too high.
He, therefore, urged the government to find innovative ways to make it affordable to ensure a larger number of people complied.
Dr Obeng expressed worry at the high exchange rate coupled with an increase in the benchmark value, which he said was having a toll on their businesses, and therefore suggested that it was about time that importers and the freight community paused the importation of goods into Ghana to drum home their importance in the economy.
“I think it’s about time we have to pause in importation for about six months for the nation to realize the importance of it on revenue mobilization and the availability of essential commodities just as it happened in 1983,” he stressed.
The AGM which was chaired by Mr Fred Asiedu Dartey, Head of Freight and Logistics, Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) saw speeches from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Freight Forwarders Association (GIFF) and the Customs Brokers Association of Ghana (CUBAG).
ACHAG is a federation of freight forwarders companies who have come together to champion their common interests and public confidence.
It currently has a membership of 94 companies.