The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana is one of such entities who have in a press release outlined concerns including some initiatives by a tripartite committee involving the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Shippers' Authority and the National Insurance Commission regarding the enforcement of an Insurance Act which calls for all Importers to purchase Insurance from Ghana instead of doing so from the origin of the imported cargo.
“If GRA, the Shippers Authority and their partner, the NIC decide to set up any monopoly in this country, so far as trade facilitation is concerned, they should not forget that, we have signed to certain international protocols, and we are not living in an island,” the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, Sampson Asaki contended.
The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association claims that at the moment, if importers opt to take the risk and not insure their cargo, for the purposes of duty collection, Customs calculate insurance value based on the fixed rate of 1% of cost and freight value for air freight and 0.85% for sea/marine freight and this has been the preferred approach all this while.
“The law should be that, if my goods land without insurance, then they can apply this rate, but if I come with my value, they should accept it,” he added.
He however contends that importers are unhappy about ongoing discussions to have all importers purchase local insurance instead of allowing them the option to choose from purchasing Insurance or not or even the option to purchase from origin of the import or in Ghana.
Sampson Asaki even contends the long held practice of Customs calculating Insurance of fixed 0.85 percent and 1 percent on cargoes that are not covered by insurance, claiming that per international conventions, insurance rates are negotiable between clients and their insurance companies, so under no circumstance should Customs peg their own rates for the purposes of duty calculation.
“I have people even complain to me that, if you bring your goods to the port and customs may look at it and say it is not 0.875%, they will adjust it,” he lamented.
The Chairman of the Commission on Trade Facilitation at the ICC-Ghana, Joseph Agbaga explained that, during the calculation of duty value on goods, customs may decide to adjust the insurance rates to the pegged rate, when they raise suspicion from rates presented when they appear unreasonably low.
However, he urged importers to provide the necessary documents constituting the insurance policy and premium paid, in the event they seek to appeal such situations where duty rates become higher as a result of customs adjusting insurance rates.
“You can challenge Customs using the appeal mechanism. Looking into it, when everything is right, they will uphold your value and give you that transaction value and that settles it.”
Joseph Agbaga, who is also a former President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, touched on the intention of the National Insurance Commission to fall on the local insurance law that says that all importation that comes to Ghana must take a local insurance.
He opined that the adoption of this law in the international shipping business in Ghana will defy international conventions. “Since we are doing international business, the internal trade business law will take precedence,” he asserted.
He advised the National Insurance Commission to thoroughly engage the trading public to present the benefits that lie within what they are proposing rather than imposing it.
“The NIC must educate trading public and prove that they can do better than what is being done out there,” Mr. Agbaga proposed.
The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, disclosed that, like many of the importing public, he is displeased with some shipping charges imposed on importers by the Shipping lines and called for some investigations that would lead to the scrapping of the charges.