The “First Port Rule”, an arrangement, that allows customs officials from neighbouring landlocked countries, Burkina Faso and Mali, to set up desks at Ghana’s ports to collect taxes on transit goods, would become operational by the end of March, this year.
Mr Isaac Crentsil, the Commissioner of the Customs Division, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), said they were ready to ensure its smooth and successful operation.
He was speaking at a sensitisation seminar on transit trade held for stakeholders in the maritime trade and transport industry in Accra.
Transit goods refers to goods that are imported through a country’s port, discharged by the ports agencies, processed by customs officials, released and transported through a country’s territory to the exit points to the destination countries.
‘Streamlining processes for the growth of transit trade in Ghana’, was the theme chosen for the programme.
It sought to highlight the need for effective customs controls towards achieving the dual objective of revenue assurance and trade facilitation.
Mr Crentsil said, “These steps are all aimed at ensuring that Ghana government gets all the revenue due the state and duty paid on all goods actually consumed in Ghana.
“It will also ensure that the neighbouring countries, actually receive goods that leave our port on transit get to such countries rather than being diverted.”
He added that blocking revenue leakages would enable the government to expand the ports’ infrastructure to receive more cargo from abroad on transit trade.
Ghana would see high tax growth on transit trade when all the fraudulent transactions at the ports ceased.
Mr Crentsil underlined the determination of the GRA to go the extra mile to exceed its collection target, this year.
He rallied all ports’ institutions to accept to play their roles effectively to achieve the goal.
Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, the Commissioner-General of the GRA, said their focus was to strengthen processes for the growth of transit trade in the country.
The President’s agenda of moving “Ghana Beyond Aid” could be achieved if all the revenue leakages were sealed and revenues due the state collected.
He said with sufficient funds, the government could successfully implement its flagship programmes- Free Senior High School, Planting for Food and Jobs and other social interventions, to make things better for everybody.
He asked that everything was done to prevent diversion of transit cargo so that the nation could mobilise funds for development.
Transit trade should be a win-win for both Ghana and its landlocked neighbours.
He called for streamlining of processes in the handling of transit goods from the time of discharge to the final destination.
He said with time transit goods would be transported in containerised vehicles except bulky goods such as iron rods.