Review law on interest charges at ports, says GIFF

The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) says the law which introduced the charges is outdated and a review is needed.

Edward Tetteh-Owusu Akrong, president of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), has urged the government to review aspects of the current law pertaining to fees charged at the ports as a result of delays in clearing goods.

He said this would reduce costs at the country’s ports.

In its current state, the Legislative Instrument of 1985 (LI 1315), which established such charges as interest and the state warehouse rent, is outdated and serves as an impediment to the growth of the freight business, Akrong said.

Empowering the press

Over the years, there have been several initiatives at Ghana’s ports, he said, including the introduction of inland container depots (ICDs), which allowed individuals and importing companies to store their cargo with private individuals at a fee.

Akrong said he does not understand why importers should still pay interest charges and state warehouse rents on such goods, even though they were not kept in government facilities. 

He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) for selected journalists in Accra.

The seminar was the seventh in a series organised by the GSA to empower media practitioners to improve their knowledge of current happenings within the trade and shipping sector.

Outdated laws

He said: “This law, Legislative Instrument (LI 1315), was established in 1985. When this was instituted, the idea was that if you put your goods in the port for a long time, because we wouldn’t have much space, you kind of clock the port, and so … serve as a deterrent for those who wanted to leave their cargoes and don’t clear within four days …

“But what we are saying is that there’s been a whole lot of introductions in our ports in recent years like the inland container depots … These ICDs, most of them are owned by private people and their business is also to hold your goods and let you pay rent for space which you are occupying. So why would we still have to pay an interest charge on duties when these goods are not in the government facilit?” he asked.

Akrong, therefore, called for a immediate review of the laws which instituted such charges, to conform to the current situation at the ports to minimise the burden on importers and enhance business and economic growth.

Insurance is key

Seth K Eshun, head of supervision at the National Insurance Commission (NIC), urged importers to ensure that they insured goods they import through local insurance companies to facilitate easy access to claims when the need arose.

Eshun said out of an estimated value of GHC90 billion worth of import in 2019, only 6% took insurance from local insurance companies.

He said the NIC was engaging other stakeholders, including the Ghana Revenue Authority and the GSA, to ensure that importers take insurance from local insurance companies before goods are cleared from the port.

Benonita Bismarck, chief executive officer of the GSA, offered her assurances of continuous collaboration with industry stakeholders to ensure the development of the sector.

The theme of the seminar was “Contemporary Trends and Developments in Ghana’s Shipping Industry”.

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