Osei Kofi Duah is a Ghanaian based outside the country and the Chief Executive Officer of SeDuah Associates who expressed his views and observations on a series of Articles that the Ghanashippingguide published detailing the method used by Customs to value used vehicles imported into the country for clearance purposes. Read his very candid and rather interesting opinion below;
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I consider the rates applied by the customs on behalf of the Ghana government rather excessive such that it impoverishes the Ghanaian. The method of using the age of the vehicle became necessary because of under invoicing. In those days it was difficult for customs to verify the purchase price of vehicles hence this method. However, the government at that time also overlooked the fact that second-hand vehicles were used under different conditions and therefore same model of same type will have different product conditions and values.
The government is, however, only interested in the tax money without considering the impact of higher taxes on its citizens because if you compare the overall tax paid on imported vehicles in Ghana to other countries it shows that our taxes are extremely high in Ghana. In this case it becomes punitive. Moreover we do not even see benefits from those taxes in Ghana.
Furthermore, In this technology age where the internet has made information readily available, customs can verify some of these information, even before the importer makes his move to buy and import. It will benefit the whole nation if the government reviews its method of charging duties.
Those days are gone when owning a motor vehicle was a luxury. These days there is no good transportation system in Ghana so the government must ease the duties payable in order to ease the cost of transportation.
I therefore suggest the government should consider using invoices where possible because genuinely those of us who live abroad see the government and its customs department as robbing Ghanaians of their hard earned income because we know how much we pay here when we import vehicles from any part of the world. This includes those in Ghana who indirectly also suffer excessive duty rates.
In addition, there is a lack of transparency on the part of customs officers and agents. In most countries the importer is privy to the processes and the methods for charging the duties; The officer will take his time and explain things to you;
For example why can’t the Ghanaian customs officer be transparent of the valuation process if the importer wants to know so that the importer can make an informed decision, even to know if he or she can afford to import and what to import.
The Ghana customs and its government would rather be happier auctioning the “unconnected” (everything in Ghana is connection) importer’s vehicle to their cronies very cheaply. For those of us living abroad you can easily verify the value of a used vehicle before you decide to buy. Dealers will show you the manufacturer’s value. The customs officer must show the price of the manufacturer to the importer and this must not be a secret because it is public information and then explain the depreciation if required.
The customs must have a help desk to advice importers to predetermine duties before they import. They should establish relationship with the public because they are paid by the (public) tax payer’s money.
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In the nutshell, the rates applied by the Ghanaian government are numerous and too high and must be reviewed because our own government is impoverishing us and making life difficult for its citizens These are some of the things that make life better in other countries and that is why almost every Ghanaian, if given the chance, would leave the country.
Please don’t forget to leave your comments and you can join the debate in the forum section and lets continue with the discussion.