President John Dramani Mahama on Friday directed the Ministry of Finance to implement measures that would stem the numerous illegal handling charges at the country’s ports and harbours.
He said there was growing complaints from both domestic and international importers, who use Ghana’s entry-points for their businesses, about the charges and there was the need to act quickly to save the industry from embarrassment.
President Mahama said this when he joined staff and management of the Ghana Revenue Authority to mark the first anniversary of the implementation of Ghana’s single window and to launch the Import, Export and Transit manual in Accra.
The single window programme was initiated by the Government of Ghana on September 1 2015 and launched on December 1, 2015 to enhance the country’s trade and economic development and secure and increased government revenue.
The project was also seen as a partnership between business and government to strengthen Ghana’s trade competitiveness and enhance the participation of the business community in the global market and to create trade and employment opportunities.
It is believed that before the implementation of the single window project, there were about 23 check-points at the ports which did not only inhibit the progress of business, but also created avenues for corruption at the ports.
President Mahama said the elimination of the numerous illegal handling charges would make Ghana the preferred destination of business and attract other importers in the sub-region to do business in the country’s ports and harbours.
He said in a bid to eliminate illegal activities at the ports and harbours, government has also established the National Risk Management Committee that would facilitate and provide walk-in services to reduce time and cost of doing business.
The President said the launch of the manual would provide a legal framework for the smooth progress of the project and make it conform with international standards and practices.
He gave the assurance that the full implementation of the single window and its inherent supportive projects would help reduce cost of doing business by the next five years and make Ghana the favourable destination for investment in Africa.
President Mahama said government’s continuous investment in port and harbour expansion would also provide adequate access to importers and create environment of smart business procedures.
He commended the implementation team for the success of the project adding that it was a testimony that it could become the best alternative to eliminate corruption and increase government revenue.
“Ghana Ports and Harbours, Ghana Maritime and all other partners should therefore get prepared to become busier in coming years on account of the expansion programmes that will also increase volumes of trade at their destinations.”
Mr James Asare Adjei, President of the Association of Ghana Industries, said the Association had so far been impressed with the implementation of the single window project on account of the reduction of the time of doing business.
He said the Association would be expecting a competitive and fair trade facilities for the indigenous Ghanaian businesses to enhance their growth and development in coming days.
Mr Adjei, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the numerous handling charges and high taxes on imported materials for Ghanaian industries and appealed to government to take a second look at the trend.