Business News of 2014-07-02

Reform customs procedure - Dutch Ambassador tells Govt

The Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Hans Docter, has called for reforms in the customs procedure to enable the country raise the much-needed revenue.

The reforms, he said, were necessary to end revenue shortfalls, tax evasion and under-declarations of goods at the ports.

The ambassador was speaking exclusively to the Graphic Business ahead of the three-day visit of the Netherland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms Lilianne Ploumen, who led a 56-member business delegation to Ghana to explore business opportunities in the country.

Subsequently, Mr Docter suggested the deployment of the state-of-the-art equipment to scan the containers at the port before valuation is done to determine the appropriate custom duties to be levied.

He further asked the government to be tougher on checking the importation of substandard goods into the country.

The diplomat also wants the government to privatise some sectors of the economy to reduce the burden on the state.

The embassy has consequently themed the visit “Growing together”, and it is expected to mark the dawn of a new relationship in Netherland and Ghana’s trade relations.

The visiting minister is set to launch various public-private initiatives in the water, sanitation, health and life sciences, agriculture as well as in the trade sectors.

The Netherlands is the fifth largest investor in Ghana, operating in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality, water and sanitation and Information Communication Technology.

“The government must ensure a strict compliance of the importation of substandard goods and plug the loopholes in the tax administration system," he said.

During the visit, specific attention was given to developments in the ports and logistics sector of the country because of Netherland’s expertise in managing and developing ports, as well as optimising related logistics.

“Government does not have to invest its own money in port expansion. PPP is a model for Ghana to follow; particularly as its budget is over-stretched,” Docter said.

“We are both the gateways to our backyard region and so it is important to develop our ports to support trade in our respective regions. To reduce the drain on the budget, the government should allow the business and the private sector to manage some sectors so that it can focus on infrastructure development,” he said.

He mentioned the ports and the cocoa-processing sectors as the areas the government can involve the private sector.

“These sectors are important to the development of Ghana’s private sector and economy of the entire West African region.”

According to him, The Netherlands, which has expertise in managing and developing ports, as well as optimising related logistics, is ready to share its experiences with Ghanaian stakeholders.

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