Ghana would risk losing her international investors to Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso among others if the current tariff structure was not changed, Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG) research has revealed.
"Currently there are six different taxes and levies that constitute the Ghana import duty payable on all imported goods at the ports of entry: airport, seaport and inland port making investment in the country almost impossible."
These came to light when FABAG presented a research they conducted on food and beverages taxes and investment to Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism for possible redress.
The research, which focused on the importation of food and beverages, raw materials for the production of food and alcoholic beverages, comparative production cost between Ghana and her neighbours in West Africa, was necessitated by the recent increases in taxes on some food items in the country.
Mr. John Awuni, a member of FABAG who made a power-point presentation on the research, said while the total cost of importing rice especially in Cote d'Ivoire stood at 12.5 percent, it cost 37 percent to import the same quantity of rice in Ghana.
"There are also equally high taxes on the imports on raw materials for food and beverages thereby diverting the attention of investors to our neighbouring countries where cost of doing business was comparatively lower."
Mr. Awuni, who is also the Corporate Affairs Director of the Finatrade Group of Companies, called on the government to consider reducing the
agencies that were engaged in the taxes as most of them seemed to be duplicating each other.
He said government's decision to place high tariffs on food and beverages would rather discourage importation and encourage smuggling of the same goods into the country thereby denying the state of its revenue.
He suggested to the government to re-structure and review its tariff regime, review some of the ambiguous and outdated import laws that had been
in the system without positive dividends to the government.
Mr. Awuni further called on the government to tighten security at the ports and harbours and other entry points to plug the loop-holes that had drained the national coffers over the years.
"There is also the need for extensive engagement with relevant stakeholders; that is consumers and business persons in fiscal policy
issues." The research added.
Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, commended FABAG for painstakingly conducting such an extensive research for the benefit of the government and the business community in the country.
"We in Parliament are happy that you have played such a complementary role for the betterment of the country and we shall during this holidays study your research carefully and present it to the whole House when we resume
sitting in May," he said.