President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, Dr Joseph Obeng, has expressed the need for the Ghana Ports Authority (GPHA) to suspend the implementation of new port charges.
According to him, the implementation of the charges comes at a surprise to him and stakeholders in the country. He explained that there is an ongoing engagement with GPHA and due to that fact that it remains inconclusive, and both parties haven’t built any consensus, acting on the blindside of stakeholders is wrong.
“It doesn’t show respect to us, and we are not going to allow this because we allowed them to make increase barely a year now, so they cannot continue to increase the tariffs, especially at this time that we are complaining that cost of doing business in this country is very high, and that it’s collapsing businesses.
“It’ not even good for the port authorities themselves because four months ago, they called us and complained that the port is not having the needed traffic that used to be and that we should find a solution to it – we said that the problem has been the cost of doing business.”Dr Joseph Obeng
Dr Obeng lamented that if care is not taken, especially with regards to the recurring increment in port charges, most importers will go to Lome port to transact business because the cost at GPHA is overbearing. He stated that when that happens, it’s not going to help the country, as such, the port should be careful and mindful of the charges they keep piling.
“When this happens, then the shipping lines are also influenced to also increase their charges, and it compounds the problems for us.”Dr Joseph Obeng
As a justification for increment in port charges, Dr Obeng noted that the GPHA cited exchange rate and utilities as major reasons. With this, he revealed that the exchange rate has stabilized for some time now and cannot be used as leverage for increment.
GUTA demands accountability on state of Tema roads
Further lamenting the increment of port charges by GPHA, Dr Obeng indicated that during the last increment, GPHA introduced new port charges for the port infrastructure development fund. He explained that the authorities convinced stakeholders on the need to renovate all the roads in Tema as they have become unmotorable.
Nonetheless, he stated that a year down the line, the roads leading to the Valco roundabout and Tema remain unmotorable and “we don’t know how the fund is being used and its very unfortunate and we demand even accountability of that before we can even go ahead”.
“During the meeting, we demanded some sort of accountability and that we want to see the progress of these road, and that we’ve seen nothing, and especially when we’ve paid for almost a year. At least, the stretch from the roundabout to the port, we should have seen some work in progress. If that is not happening, then it means that we are just being taken for granted and being the mother cow that they are just milking it.
“It is not fair, and businesses cannot contain these extortive taxes any longer. We are not going to allow that until we have been able to build some consensus, and if we have to accept it, then we see the appropriate time to bring it. For now, businesses are overburdened with these taxes and high cost of doing business. It’s unacceptable.”Dr Joseph Obeng
Commenting on the possibility of such increment being moved to goods and its impact on consumers, the GUTA President described the imminent situation as “the most unfortunate thing”. He noted that when businesses pile cost on consumers due to high prices, it goes back to destroy these businesses because consumers are unable to purchase the volumes that they used to buy.
“… It destroys our turnover. Businesses thrive on turnover, so when goods and services are high in the market, most people think it goes in our favor, no. It rather curtails the turnover and for that, we are unable to service our debts at the banks. So, it is not in our interest that prices go up and we keep on piling this cost on consuming public. It is not fair; they also need to have a respite…”Dr Joseph Obeng