Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG) has sent a strong signal to government of further increase in commodity prices if government continues with its plans to tax more from traders and importers and surcharge imports that are coming into the country with atrocious and ridiculous increment.
According to TAGG, government is putting together committees to investigate the rationale behind price hikes in commodities such as building materials and others, but failing to realize that traders are not “Father Christmas” to give Father Christmas prices when even, taxes are high above comprehension.
According to TAGG, successive governments have come and gone yet the story of the Ghanaian trader remains the same and there has been no remedy for traders and importers all over country.
“Traders for years have been pleading anytime there are increments on tariffs from the governments’ part. But we will not plead this time around. If this current government increases import tariffs, we will also tell our traders and members across all the sixteen (16) regions to do same. Prices will continue to soar as long as government keeps increasing tariffs around imports.”
Addressing a Press Conference in Accra today on the causes of price increases on commodities in the country and the current plight of the Ghanaian Trader, General Secretary of TAGG Nana Poku indicated that currently, shipping companies and vessels are not sending containers to China resulting in an upsurge of freight charges when shipping a container from Asia to Ghana, yet government is rather putting itself in good shape to tax more from traders and importers. “Government on the other hand as well as revenue collection agencies such as Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) are going overboard to surcharge the imports that are coming into the country with atrocious and ridiculous increment.”
“Are they expecting traders to pay more on imports in huge sums of monies and at the end of the day sell for less and lose their capital (Big NO)?” he said.
He emphasized that; policy makers are not doing enough to put the rightful policies in place to encourage trade facilitation in the country, in the wake of Covid -19 as traders find it very difficult to travel around various countries to import their goods into Ghana. “Even when you send money for goods the anxiety of receiving sub-standard goods is high and, in most cases, sub-standard goods are received,” Nana Poku indicated.
He explained that, Ghana as a country is not self-sufficient when it comes to commodity market and importation is inevitable as most commodities are not manufactured in Ghana.
Nana Poku averred that close to sixty percent (60%) of household commodities needed for day-to-day living is imported into the country to augment the effort of Ghanaian industries hence, TAGG is expecting that policy makers such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry all other agencies including the Ghana Shipper’s Authority (GSA) would have conducted an all-inclusive stakeholders’ engagement to sample views from trade organizations instead of being selective as to who participates or not.
Such antics, he noted, do not augur well for trade promotion in the country.
“In recent times, if an importer is to ship a container of about 40ft high cue from China to Ghana, the freight charges start from $12,000 up to $20,000 U.S dollars. In view of these developments, GRA customs division does their calculations per the freight charges before they arrive at the actual duty to be paid by the importer,” he said adding that, “Unfortunately, (GRA) instead of evaluating the situation offshore to ascertain its impact, they have rather come out with a pre-determined rate ranging from $3,000 for 20 feet container $5,000 for 40 feet container and $8,000 for refrigerated container respectively and see no reason to empathize with traders and importers. Rather, the technocrats within the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) have seen an opportunity to cash in with these increases.”
The General Secretary noted that a government that once listened to the voices of the traders, No Longer Does and call for a change in the trading community.
Adding his voice, President of TAGG, Kwadwo Amoateng lamented that foreigners have now taken over the import business pushing out the indigenous business men and women who hitherto had monopoly on the market.
He however licked against the speaker of parliament of Ghana, Alban Bagbin’s call to the (GIPC ACT 865) that seeks to protect the Ghanaian trader to be soften in order to allow the indigenes of Nigeria to take over petty trading in that employs millions of Ghanaians in Ghana.
“We want to ask; is the speaker of Ghana’s parliament patriotic enough and also have a Ghanaian trader at heart? Why only Nigeria is he calling to be exempted from the GIPC ACT 865? And why the loud silent when the borders of Nigeria were closed to the West Africa Neighbors, where was this speaker of parliament?”
He also stressed that, traders and importers will no longer demonstrate, picket, plead, and appeal to government over increase in taxes and surcharges but will also increase prices of commodities whenever government increases tax and surcharges imports.
He called on the general public not to blame traders for price hikes but blame government.