SHIPPERS in the Volta and Oti regions of the country have been sensitised to the reversal of the discount on benchmark values.
The sensitisation was part of events that marked the 67th meeting of the Volta Regional Shipper Committee held at Aflao on May 19, 2022.
The discount on benchmark value policy was reviewed from 50 per cent to 30 per cent for general goods and from 30 per cent to 10 per cent for vehicles.
A Principal Revenue Officer from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Jonathan Dabrah, who took shippers through the reversal policy, affirmed that the benchmark value was essentially an internal risk assessment tool to establish whether a value could be accepted under transaction value or rejected based on the tenets of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on customs valuation.
He noted that the benchmark value was the reference value for assessing whether a particular declared value that deviated from the benchmark had a valuation risk of under-invoicing, over-invoicing or transfer pricing.
He said the government decided to phase out the discount policy gradually after engaging with stakeholders in the trading and manufacturing industry.
The benchmark values
It is, among other things, to stamp out rampant mis-invoicing and valuation fraud and also to ensure that the value of imported goods reflects commercial prices and the reality.
How it started
The government, in its quest to boost the volume of imports through the country’s ports, reduced the benchmark values up to 50 per cent in April 2019.
The imposition of the discount policy generated tension between the AGI and the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
The AGI maintained that the reduction in the benchmark values by up to 50 per cent in April 2019 cheapened imports and dampened demand for local substitutes, reducing the rate of growth in the manufacturing sector.
This plea was rejected forcefully at the time by the umbrella body of the trading community, the GUTA, which argued that a reversal of the benchmark value would result in increases in the prices of goods.
The meeting also sensitised the shippers to some of the policies implemented by the GRA and recent initiatives that impact business such as the discount values on goods and services, the GRA taxpayers’ portal, the four per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) flat rate and the Electronic Transactions levy (E-levy).