All is set for Ghana to fully implement the Common External Tariff (CET) on February 1, 2016.
This follows the successful passage of the CET Act, (Act 905) by Parliament.
The CET is the single tariff rate agreed to by all member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The CET regime means that the same tariff will be slapped on an eligible item imported into the ECOWAS sub-region, irrespective of which ECOWAS-member country it lands in.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the 64th International Customs Day in Accra, the Chief Revenue Officer of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Seidu Yakubu, said when implemented, the CET would ensure that the smuggling of goods was reduced.
“With CET implementation, there will be no need for importers in the country to import their goods through any of the ECOWAS member countries and then wheel them by road to Ghana,” he said.
He said his outfit had observed that due to the tariff difference within the ECOWAS member states, importers preferred trading in other countries instead of the countries in which they operated.
The CET for ECOWAS, which was adopted at the Heads of State Summit in October 2013 in Dakar, will enhance trade within the sub-region.
Meanwhile, the GRA has inaugurated an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) facility that handles the re-introduced classification and valuation function of customs operations in the country.
The facility, dubbed “Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB), will simplify customs and other border procedures for the efficient clearance of goods across borders.
The Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr George Blankson, indicated that although the early stages of the project experienced some challenges, the authority was able to overcome them through diligent monitoring.
“We intend to sustain the successes attained so far to improve upon revenue assessment and collection,” he added.
President John Dramani Mahama, in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, commended the decision by the Customs Division to officially launch the CTSB office.
“The government of Ghana, as part of tax administration reforms in the 2013 Annual Budget and Fiscal Policy, declared the phasing out of Destination Inspection Scheme (DICs) that had been operational for a couple of years,” he said.
Following that policy direction, he said, the Customs Division, in September 2015, effectively took over that primary customs function in line with international best practice and as recommended by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
According to him, the government intended to improve the business environment by implementing policies such as the creation of the National Single Window, consistent with the government’s recognition of the private sector as a key building block for continued economic growth and development.
“The introduction of the Single Window is, therefore, a clear and bold statement of intent by the government to address some of the challenges of doing business in the country,” he added.