The Ghana Union of Traders Association is warning of a steep increase of about 50% in the prices of some major goods imported into the country if the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) goes ahead with the implementation of the government’s policy directive on the reversal of the reduction of values of imports on selected items, otherwise known as the ‘benchmark values’ from today January 4th, 2022.
The reversal which is expected to affect some 43 items has been resisted by sections of the trading community and comes almost 3 years after the government reduced the benchmark values or delivery values of imports, by 50%, except for vehicles which were reduced by 30%, all in an effort to reduce the menace of smuggling and make the country’s ports more competitive and attractive.
The reversal will affect items including, sugar, poultry, pasta, palm oil, roofing sheets, toilet paper, facial tissue and towel, chocolates, Portland cement, and mosquito coil.
Other items also include vehicles, ceramic tiles, aluminium products, cartons, textiles, fruit juices, among others.
In an interview with Citi Business News, Dr. Joseph Obeng, the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) described the timing as wrong and warned prices of affected items will shoot up.
“We are going to see duties increase by 100%. That is one impact. Because we were paying duty worth half of our invoice value and now we are going to make full payment. We are not expecting less than 50% increment in prices of goods in the markets.”
On the way forward, Prof. Peter Quartey, the Head of the Economics Division at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research said more dialogue is needed to ensure a smooth application of the policy.
“I think dialogue is needed to bring the two parties together. There are firms that are producing locally that are being hurt by this benchmark values reduction policy, so you want to address that issue. There are some areas where we don’t produce enough and we rely on import and you also want to protect that aspect.”
“That is why I believe in my view, the government is proposing to do a selective application of this benchmark thing, such that it’s not any company that is going to benefit from this. We ought to analyze the whole situation and where there’s the need to take it off or apply it, we do so,” he added.