Investors Cry Over High Import Duties

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Story By: Paul Harrison Mensah & Samuel Osei Frempong, Tema.
An industrialist and importer who is in the good books of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and pays millions of cedis as tax annually has urged government to consider the industrial limitations and needs of Ghana when imposing import duties and levies.
Counting about 10 different types of taxes and levies on one imports, making it 78 percent accumulated tax input on one single item sold to the consumer, the importer describes it unacceptable and suicidal.
How could I sell an item with about 78 percent tax input to my customers? How much do I sell the item and where would the get the money to buy? He quizzed.
The importer who wanted to remain anonymous was speaking on the performance of Ghana’s economy and said import duties are too high and so many and need to be revised downward since the ordinary consumer would ultimately bear the burden.
“Economies thrive on public and individual spending so when there is little to spend because of high pieces then, there is trouble,” he said.
The importer said, “There are so many areas of our national life but we do not make them here so when importers pay such high duties and levies before clearing them, they will pass those charges to the poor man who is trying to create relative comfort for his family.”
According to him, charges on imported building materials for instance contribute more than fifty percent of the cost on the open market, and asked how could people afford it.
Recounting the days of Ex-President John Jerry Rawlings in the 90s where importation of building materials was virtually duty free, he said, that was the time the country experienced massive infrastructural development and excessive patronage of building materials.
“Now people can’t afford buying building materials like before and this has woefully contributed to huge housing deficit we found ourselves in now,” he added.
He asked government to encourage individuals to build their own houses since the nation’s resources cannot support social housing schemes.
“Total local production of building materials are not enough to ensure reasonable prices hence the need to import. The apparent sign of this problem is the high rents which go a long way to throw family budgets out of gear.”
“Government could rake in more revenue if it lowers taxes because the lower the taxes the more people have ability to pay. Now the whole tax system is designed for failure because it is too high and people can’t pay.”
According to him, every economy’s building blocks starts with the family’s disposal income and their financial wellbeing hence the need to watch the “Little things that make the bigger things.”
Meanwhile, score of industrialists operating their factories at the Tema industrial area have also expressed displeasure about what they termed “Toxic taxations” spilt over their heads by the NPP administration, calling for the overhaul of the tax system to avert any unwanted industrial action.