A supervisor at Customs Technical Bureau at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Bilson Jahdab Atabah, has revealed that the benchmark value implemented by government do not benefit consumers in the country.
According to him, government has decided to reverse the discount on import of goods and vehicles from January 1, 2023, because importers do not significantly implement these discounts on goods imported to benefit consumers who make purchases. He indicated that the “deviation from the price and during the implementation” when one visits the market is about the same and the reason retailers give is that duties have increased.
Mr Atabah indicated that the “actual good” of the discount in benchmark policy was targeted at the consumers and provide needed relief.
“The beneficiaries that are targeted are not having that impact. That effect is not seen by consumers. For instance, when it started, Abossey Okai, they had 0% rated for some of the products and in addition to that, the discounts…
“Apparently, we have given discounts [and] we have given lower rates, so, why would you price the things to the consumers? So, what it means is that the distributer, retailer or importer is the one benefitting but the majority of the consumers do not benefit from the policy because prices have not deviated so much…”Bilson Jahdab Atabah
Mr Atabah emphasized that external factors cannot be considered as reasons for the refusal of these importers to implement the policy. He noted that there is the need to take away the apparent effect of the global economic downturn.
“Nothing like that changed when the economy was stable. So, in effect, the reason for some of these reversal is due to the non-effect…Bilson Jahdab Atabah
Commenting on whether the timing for the reversal of the discount policy is apt, Mr Atabah stated that the GRA is only an implementer of the directive and does not necessarily have any say in that decision.
“That is a government policy and we are implementers of government policies. So, when it comes to government policies, as stated in the budget statements, government comes out with budget statements, in that budget statement are policy directives that are geared towards revenue mobilization or relief to some sectors of the population. So, government in its own wisdom [will decide]…”Bilson Jahdab Atabah
Impact of discount reversal on businesses
On his part, Supervisor at the Vehicle Valuation Unit of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Justice Njornan Magah Yadjayime, revealed that for businesses and individuals, it only means that government has gone back to the status quo. He noted that previously, duties were calculated on a “100% FOB values and for vehicles”, the manufacturers suggested its own price.
“So, it was the full value on which the duty was calculated. But for certain considerations that the government put in place and took into consideration, they gave certain dispensations. So, on the government part, there was review and they realized the intended purpose has been achieved so, we go back to the status quo.”Justice Njornan Magah Yadjayime
Mr Yadjayime indicated that the reversal means that businesses will need to adjust because there’ll be increase in taxes in the amount they will pay. Nonetheless, he expressed that its impact will not mean same for all businesses.
“So, they will need to adjust and it even depends on where you belong because if you belong to AGI, AGI welcomes it because they think that it is going to help local businesses to grow and for those who import like GUTA, they think that it will increase their cost of doing business. So, they just have to adjust to the new policy and move on.”Justice Njornan Magah Yadjayime
The Supervisor at the Vehicle Valuation Unit of the Ghana Revenue Authority stated that for goods such as vehicles at the port, importers will see the new directive take effect. However, he noted that for goods that will be discharged on 31st December 2022, importers will be able to clear it without the effect of the new directive.