Business News of 2014-02-14

GPHA demands dollars

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has justified its decision for all foreign shipping line owners to pay fees and charges owed the authority in foreign currencies.
Speaking to Joy News on Wednesday, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of GPHA, Joana Adda said the decision was backed by PNDC Law 160, which established the authority.
According to her, the law mandates GPHA to maintain and keep a foreign account in order to ensure that the port operators are able to purchase their equipment abroad with ease.
Explaining further, Joana Adda indicated that the law stipulates that when transacting business with foreign shipping lines, they have to pay in foreign currencies, adding, “Ghanaian vessels will certainly pay in cedis.”
The reaction from GPHA follows complaints from some shipping line owners at the Tema Port about the directive given by the GPHA for all foreign vessels transacting business with it to pay in foreign currencies.
Port operators said it has become necessary for some guidelines to be provided to enable GPHA receive its legitimate payment for services rendered following the directives by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) on the operation of foreign currency accounts.
A copy of a letter written by GPHA to the shipping line operators and intercepted by Joy News read: “Following directives of the Bank of Ghana on the operation of foreign currency accounts, it has become necessary for some guidelines to be provided to enable GPHA receive its legitimate payment for services rendered and invoiced in foreign currency.
“All shipping lines working with GPHA and have agreed to payment undertakings should continue making payments by telegraphic transfer to the designated bank accounts.
“All other customers, who are required to make payments for services for foreign vessels must make payment by telegraphic transfers to its foreign currency accounts from their offshore accounts by their principals.
“It is expected that private stevedore companies will receive payments from shipping line to their offshore funds since its services are considered as export service and must be paid for with offshore funds from which remittances will be made for stevedore fees to GPHA.
The new directive from the port operators is expected to be complied with by the shipping line operators, but they suspect that the move is an attempt by GPHA to by-pass the new Bank of Ghana (BoG) measures to stabilize the declining cedi.
Reports say several meetings are underway by the shipping line operators to reject the directive since it violates the Central Bank’s new measures.