Officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) have received word that some freight forwarders and clearing agents have been extorting money from importers.
It has therefore served a notice to all importers to be wary of whom they do business with. We publish the notice in full.
"It has come to the attention of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) that certain clearing agents and/or freight forwarders are falsifying Customs duties, taxes and other charges which they claim are paid to CEPS while processing or clearing goods for clients.
In some cases clients are charged for transactions which do not require payment of duties and taxes (eg. Free Zone or Export declarations).
CEPS is extremely concerned about these abuses and the erroneous impression created about the level of tariffs and levies being charged in clearing goods at the ports or through Customs.
Investigations are already underway in respect of cases that have been identified and agents found culpable will be severely dealt with.
In the meantime, CEPS advises all importers to note that that apart from the fee charged by the clearing agent and/or freight forwarder, bank drafts or cash for import duties and other levies should be payable to CEPS and not to the clearing or forwarding agent.
The designated banks (i.e. Ghana Commercial Bank and Ecobank) are required to issue drafts for Customs payments without any commissions or charges.
Importers are to request for a copy of the printed Customs declaration form and the bank receipt and then contact the CEPS help desk at the port or entry point or the GCNet help desk to ascertain the veracity of the information.
The help desk officers will confirm whether the amount being claimed by the clearing agent is correct or otherwise.
There are standard fees charged by clearing and forwarding agents, per container, loose cargo, etc.
When in doubt importers are advised to seek confirmation from the branch or national secretariat of the clearing and forwarding agencies. The Ghana Institute of Freight has indicated its willingness to assist or cooperate with CEPS in this matter."
Ms Annie Anipa
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