The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has called on government to expedite action on its trade facilitation reforms and support local industry to improve standards and local production for export.
It said the multiple intermediaries within the port clearance system such as West Blue Consulting, GCNet, GRA, UNIPASS, EasyPASS, etc, defeat the trade facilitation efforts.
In a recent statement signed by Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, President of AGI, the association pointed out that currently the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement further open up Ghana’s market to Europe and the rest of Africa under the duty free, quota free regime.
“Considering the impact on Ghana’s revenue prospects, it is expedient for government to give local industries the needed support such as stimulus packages in order to give meaning to these trade agreements that usher Ghana into the single African market.”
The AGI also urged government to, as a matter of urgency, implement the One District, One Factory, adding that businesses were anxious to see support from government.
AGI further noted that manufacturing, which represents a critical mass of the real sector of the Ghanaian economy, is becoming less competitive.
“The collaboration between AGI and the Customs Division of the GRA must be further strengthened to help check malpractices such as under-invoicing, under-declaration and mis-description of imports in order to save manufacturing from the threat of collapse. Delays and charging of unofficial fees still persist, undermining trade facilitation programmes and reforms introduced last year. The paperless system is a welcome initiative, though it has not fully addressed all the challenges. To this end, AGI appreciates the discussions and institutional collaboration with the GRA and relevant institutions to help check malpractices at the ports.”
AGI also called for the passage of the local content law for the construction sector.
“AGI recommends a form of credit certificate to offset outstanding statutory payments to local contractors. There is also the need for a legislation to cushion contractors, who suffer delayed payments in view of the huge pre-financing costs.
“Considering the delayed payments that characterize the sector, such a move will enhance the sustainability of local construction firms, in particular, job creation and economic growth.”
It bemoaned the duplication of mandate and services by some regulatory bodies at the ports, adding that industry cannot bear the cost of such services already being delivered and recommended the augmentation of existing structures to avoid excessive bureaucracy and undue costs to the businesses.
“Timber exports face increasing charges, long document processing time and as many as 13 supporting documents for harbour pass renewal in spite of the recent reforms at the port. The delays are causing our local exporters loss of foreign contracts.
“Government should pay closer attention to the development of tourism in Ghana, considering the fact that tourism is the 4th highest foreign exchange earner in Ghana. Council calls on government to strictly implement the 15-year Tourism development programme and also ensure that tourist destinations are well-developed. The council also urges government to ensure that a state-of-the-art hospitality training institute is quickly developed.”