Ghana has reportedly lost more than US$ 100 million in duties on Cement imports alone. According to an investigation report by Accra-based Joy News titled “Leaking Ports”, they uncovered how Ghana lost several millions in unpaid duties by cement importers.
A January 9, 2019 letter leaked from the National Security Secretariat confirmed that the so-called Ghana National Single Window, otherwise known as the Paperless Port clearance system, has massively failed.
The paperless system which was fervently campaigned for by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia to streamline, secure, and increase government revenue at the various ports of entry was excitedly announced in 2018 to have saved the country some US$ 500 million in revenues which would have done under the radar since 2016.
“Reports and checks conducted at the country’s ports 9Tema and Takoradi) confirmed that, vessels which come to discharge bulk weight and cargo are under-declared due to non-existent weighing bridges at the discharge wharfs. It is worthy to note that revenue calculation for bulk cargo is based on weight and / or Cubic Meters and once under-declared will lead to massive revenue loss to Government,”
Far from the impression of savings created by the Akufo Addo administration, the National Security letter states categorically that importers are still taking advantage of loopholes at the ports to rob the country of millions in unpaid duties.
The leaked letter and the exposed losses from cement imports means that the government may not have been honest on the true nature of revenues it should be saving the country from the so-called paperless system.
According to the leaked documents revenue authorities rely on data from vessels and cement manufacturing companies for tax and duty calculations.
Also, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) also relies on multiple data sources to charge duties on imports by the cement companies this has reportedly given cement manufacturers a field day at manipulating data in their favour.
In 2018, for instance, the revenue loss, according to the national security files, was over $62 million in import and port duties. The estimated duty on a ton of clinker is $26 while port dues are $2 per ton. Government, therefore, lost about $58 million in duties and taxes while Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) lost $4 million as a result of the more than 2 million tonnes of clinker that were undeclared that year.