MDAs uncleared cargo troubles GSA
The Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) has expressed worry over the high propensity for consignments of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to overstay at the country’s ports.
According to the GSA, “While there are a number of reasons why goods may overstay in the port, one of the major processes that affect the clearance for some category of imported goods, and which results in consignments reaching the Customs uncleared cargo list (UCL) threshold, is the exemption or permit regime.”
Benonita Bismarck, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA, who was addressing MDAs yesterday at a seminar in Accra, said when imported consignments of MDAs overstay at the ports, these incur dire financial consequences.
“It is trite knowledge that consignments of state-owned agencies are not forfeited to the state for purposes of auction: however, their final clearance is accompanied by huge demurrage and rent charges that would have accumulated over the period.
“If we take a scenario of twenty 40-footer containers of hospital supplies or equipment that stay in the port for 100 days before they are cleared, we would notice that at the current demurrage rate, the agency would be required to pay $167,640 (GH¢880,110) for demurrage alone. For 261 days, the amount shoots up to $460,800 (GH¢2, 419,200).”
She said the irony was that such amounts most probably would be much higher than the import duties for which the exemption was sought.
“As agencies of state, the payment of these accumulated demurrage and rent charges amounts to a wasteful dissipation of national resources that could otherwise have provided essential services for our citizens,” she noted.
In 2017 alone, $76 million and GH¢48 million were paid by importers as demurrage and rent respectively. This prompted the GSA to embark on a demurrage sensitization campaign which saw the estimated demurrage amounts paid in 2018 reducing to $59 million.
Generally, the customs clearance regime allows for consignment upon arrival at Ghana’s seaports to be domiciled within the port or designated terminal for seven (7) free days without attracting storage charges as rent from the custodians.