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The Association of Customs Housing Agents Ghana (ACHAG), has appealed to the government to remove outdated taxes on port clearance of goods to make Ghana’s ports more competitive.

Mr. Yaw Kyei, the outgoing president of ACHAG, made the appeal and questioned the reasons behind the COVID-19 health recovery levy and the Ministry of Health Disinfection fee.

Mr. Kyei, speaking at ACHAG’s third Annual General Meeting (AGM), said, “What could be the reason for the government still holding on to the outdated COVID-19 health recovery levy? Of what benefit is it to the Ghanaian for the government to hold on to the Ministry of Health Disinfection fee?

Network charge of 0.04 per cent on the Free on Board (FoB) and its related VAT charges, who is the recipient, and for what justification is this tax in place?”

He was speaking at a meeting on theme, “Doing business at the ports in the face of current economic challenges”.

He said there were a lot more fees, levies, and taxes, and that ACHAG believed the government should reconsider its existence and implementation, adding that it was taking a toll on businesses in Ghana.

He noted that the pressure on the ports to generate enough money to finance the national budget, led to increased taxes to achieve targets as a convenient move, was reflected in the numerous challenges seen at the various ports of entry in the country.

“High costs of doing business at the ports may result in high inflation, smuggling, corruption, a reduction in the purchasing power of importers and exporters, diversion of imports through neighbouring countries on a financial competitive basis, intensification of malpractice, for example, under-invoicing, misdescription, cutting down on imports, and its multiplier effects on imports and government revenue,” he stressed.

Mr. Kyei stated that apart from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) raking in so much for the state, there were other government and quasi-government bodies at the ports adding up to the cost of doing business.

He said the bodies include the Food and Drugs Authority, the Ghana Standard Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Minerals Commission, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the National Petroleum Authority, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, and Ghana Health Services.

He explained that the state derived its revenue at the ports from duties, taxes, fees, and levies via the Customs declaration, or the Bill of Entry, indicating that some included import duty, import special TAC, import excise duty, ECOWAS levy, mining levy, rent charges, customs penalty, fines, overtime charges, manifest amendment, manufacturer licensee.

The outgoing ACHAG president said another source of concern was the shipping line charges, terminal charges, costs from consolidators, and the high cost of transportation of the cleared goods.

Mr. Alhassan Sulemana Tampuli, the Deputy Minister for Transport, said the government was committed to improving the maritime and port sectors, therefore investing in infrastructure, technology, and an efficient transport sector to ease the doing of business at the various ports.

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Mr. Tampuli said a committee had been constituted under the Economic Management Team tasked with the responsibility of making recommendations on how to reduce the cost of doing business at the ports, having listened to the concerns of various stakeholders in the port value chain.

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In another development, the Renal Patients Association of Ghana has sounded an alarm concerning the potential loss of lives if the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) proceeds with an increase in dialysis costs.

This concern arises in the wake of reports indicating that the hospital’s Renal unit is grappling with a new debt of GH₵2 million, three months after the government settled a prior debt of GH¢4 million.

Dr. Owusu Sekyere, the Director of Medical Affairs at KBTH, disclosed that the current dialysis costs surpass GH₵720 per session, with patients presently contributing only GH₵380.

This stark disparity in costs poses a substantial financial challenge for patients, as highlighted by the President of the Renal Patients Association, Baffour Kojo Ahenkorah.

Ahenkorah underscored the existing financial strain faced by association members who are already struggling to afford the current dialysis costs.

Speaking with Selorm Adonoo on Eyewitness News, he expressed deep concern, stating that any upward adjustment in prices would be devastating for patients.

While acknowledging the financial constraints faced by the hospital, Mr. Ahenkorah urged the government to urgently intervene and find a solution.

“We knew this would come one day even though it has come a bit early because they wanted to charge GH767.42 and they were pushed to cut it down to GH¢380. So definitely there was going to be underrecovery there. But this is the reality on the ground. The consumables are more expensive. But here we are, we all know the economy that we are in. Even the 380 we can’t pay. The government has to come in.”

“…People are going to die again. People are going to die again on this thing…So we will just plead with the government to do something.”

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