Business News of 2014-06-17

Comment: Check corruption at the ports

The state is reported to have lost more than GH¢2.1 million in revenue from the undervaluation of some imported fruit juices into the country between January and May this year alone.
Sources said the importer, distributor and wholesale prices at which some brands were sold in the country lent credence to the strongest assertion that there was serious manipulation of the import values and possible collusion by the importers and suppliers to enable them to pay less to Customs.
This comes at a time when the government is in dire need of revenue to enable it to meet its financial obligations to the people.
Many Ghanaians believe that one of the major sources of government revenue leakage is the ports and this is because of lack of proper supervision of the various revenue collection agencies.
In the case of the fruit juice importation, we gathered from some local manufacturers of fruit juices in the country that considering the prices of the juices outside the country, if the right duties were paid, there was no way importers could sell at the prices displayed on the market.
They were of the view that some importers of the numerous fruit juices were in some kind of collusion with some officials at the ports who allowed them to undervalue their imports to enable them to sell at cheaper prices.
This practice, although not new, is worrying and this is the time for the government to take drastic measures to ensure that the loopholes are plugged.
For the past three years or so, the government has always missed its domestic revenue target because the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has not been able to collect what is due the state.
The loopholes in the system are known and it is time for the government to take a more critical and holistic view of the operations at the ports to ensure that all corrupt practices are exposed and ruthlessly dealt with.
It is also necessary for the government to realise that, if imported goods are allowed to enter our markets through such practices, the local companies which produce or manufacture similar products would not be able to compete favourably on the market.
Last week, a deputy Minister of Finance, who visited the ports, urged the authorities to be steadfast in the discharge of their duties to ensure that the revenue leakages were plugged.
The Graphic Business believes that words alone cannot stop the corrupt practices at the ports.
Something drastic must happen and it will only take the government to do so by being proactive and taking measures to severely deal with the cartels operating there.