The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has backed calls by the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana and the Artisanal Palm Oil Millers and Outgrowers Association of Ghana for the scrapping of the 50% Benchmark Value Reduction Policy on crude palm oil and palm kernel oil.
According to GUTA, even though the country cannot produce enough refined vegetable oil as it stands, it is important that multinational oil refineries operating in the country are compelled to buy crude palm oil and palm kernel oil from local producers.
The Government of Ghana as part of efforts to curb smuggling and boost revenue mobilization at Ghana’s ports introduced the Benchmark Value Reduction policy in 2019.
In effect, importers now pay duties on 50% Benchmark Value of general goods imported and 70% of values of cars.
The Policy was however rejected by the Association of Ghana Industries, Rice Millers and palm oil producers.
The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana and the Artisanal Palm Oil Millers and Outgrowers Association of Ghana have been at the forefront demanding the scrapping of the Benchmark policy, saying it is rendering a lot of Ghanaians Jobless.
“If you go to the villages where they cultivate oil palm today, they have no buyers because when they produce, these refineries and the manufacturers do not come to buy their fresh fruit bunches [FFB]. That is because when they buy it and process it, they do not get buyers who would buy the refined oil and are now importing because it is easier to import, and it is very cheap,” a board member of the Tree Crop Authority and an executive member of the Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana, Maxwell Nii Commey told Citi Business News.
Mr. Commey said if the government does not intervene, a lot of businesses in the sector would fold up.
He further clarified that the group is “not requesting the government to cancel the whole policy. Because the government knows the reason why they implemented this policy but we are saying that they should exempt our industry from the Benchmark value. So that we will become very competitive”.
President of the GUTA, Joseph Obeng, said the association is willing to back the call of Oil Palm producers if they will not extend their demands to all edible oil imported.
“If they are talking about crude palm oil, we (GUTA) do not import crude palm oil (CPO) and crude palm kernel oil (PKO). It is the multinationals who are importing from their Asian plantations to come and refine here in Ghana after enjoying so many tax rebates. They import the refined oil to come and bottle here to claim they are refining in Ghana,” Dr. Obeng told Citi Business News.
Dr. Obeng said, “if it is a call to support the removal of the benchmark policy from crude palm oil, we do not have any problem with that, we will actually support that but we will not agree on an arm twisting policy that would affect all edible oil imported into the country”.