Reduction in benchmark values fails to lift imports

The reduction in the benchmark values of imports has failed to yield the intended results.

Data from the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) shows that rather than increasing, goods coming into the country fell by more than 11 per cent after the policy was implemented in April, this year.

The reduction in benchmark values was expected to boost the volume of imports through the country’s ports but three months after its implementation, import volumes are rather dropping.

The development is in spite of the review of the benchmark values which translated into general goods being slashed by 50 per cent and that of vehicles also seeing a 30 per cent reduction in April this year.

For instance, the total volume of goods imported through the country’s two seaports ( Tema and Takoradi) dropped from 7.16 million tonnes as recorded in the first half of 2018 to 6.35 million tonnes in the same period this year. This represents an 11.31 per cent decline.

While the first quarter (January-March) of 2019 recorded a decline of 7.8 per cent to 3.57 million tonnes against the 3.87 million tonnes recorded for the same period last year, the data from the GSA showed that the second quarter (April-June) of 2019 also showed a decrease of 16.89 per cent to 2.73 million tonnes to 3.29 million tonnes in the same period last year.

The data from the GSA released recently indicated that the development was influenced by decline in imported commodities such as petroleum products, bulk cement, bagged rice, chemicals and bagged sugar.

Benchmark reductions

The data also revealed that transit goods recorded a paltry growth of 2.89 per cent to 587,537 tonnes for the period under review while export volumes on the other hand recorded an impressive increase of 42.04 per cent to 5.72 million tonnes against the 4.03 million tonnes.

However, the major gainers for exports consisted of a 1.67 million tonnes rise in manganese, 191,223 tonnes increase in bauxite, 169,758 tonnes jump in timber logs, 93,525 tonnes growth in cashew nuts and 31,483 tonnes increase in cocoa beans.

GUTA’s position

Rather than increasing volume of goods, the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr Joseph Obeng, in an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on Friday, September 20 in Accra, observed that the reduction in the benchmark values had helped to maintain prices of goods.

According to him, the drop in the volume of goods could be attributed to a litany of challenges which consist of over populated markets and financial difficulties on the part of traders.