The Oil Palm Smallholders and Outgrowers’ Association, has urged government to go ahead with the imposition of a 10 percent adjustment tax on crude palm oil (CPO) imports into the country.
The Association said the call on government by some importers and few multinationals for the suspension of the tax amounted to economic sabotage.
“The government must seriously not listen to the selfish interest of some multinationals in the industry to use our country as a dumping ground of their produce,” Mr Charles Twumasi-Ankrah, Executive member of the Association told a news conference in Accra.
Mr Twumasi-Ankrah said local production will suffer when government continues to allow the influx of cheap low quality palm oil from the Far East.
He said as much as the farmers recognise the need to bridge the gap between the current production and consumption, which is in excess of 200,000 metric tonnes, and could not call for a total ban on the import of the commodity, there is the need to protect local producers to stay competitive.
“Without the duty protection, most investors will prefer the importation of cheap crude palm oil to the establishment of plantation which renders a lot of employment to thousands of people in the rural communities,” Mr Twumasi-Ankrah said.
He said protection of duty is needed to help increase the production of CPO and this could not be achieved through the suspension of the duty protection.
Mr Twumasi-Ankrah said oil palm plantation raises the living standards of the rural people by providing employment to thousands of inhabitants and alleviating poverty.
He said if adequate protection is not given to the palm sector, the country would risk losing local production of 135,000 tonnes and need to be replaced by import which would cost the country more than $ 95 million dollars and also risk of losing livelihood of 290,000 farmers.
Mr Twumasi-Ankrah said the tax will help discourage importation of CPO and boost domestic production, while the increased opportunity for domestic oil palm production would encourage direct foreign investment into the sector.
He suggested that government could channel part of the tax into research and development of high yield oil palm planting materials and fertilizer to increase output of the oil palm plantations.