The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has appealed to the government to rescind its intended decision to remove the Benchmark Value Reduction of 50% that was introduced on some selected items.
“We want to appeal to the government that the 50% reduction on the benchmark values is the last straw of hope that businesses are holding onto in the wake of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” GUTA said in a statement.
The traders argue that world commodity prices have gone up astronomically as well as freight charges coupled with prolonged shipment of goods and other related problems, adding that this has pushed their businesses into near-collapse and also led to unbearable price hikes of goods in the market for the consuming public who are already suffering from the effects.
GUTA said with regard to the selected items which include rice, edible oil, biscuit, frozen chicken, and other food and essential commodities, “we do not have self-sufficiency and sustainability in the local production”.
“For us to surcharge and punish the final consumer who, barely has sufficient and affordable alternative, will not be fair and disastrous.”
The association has admitted that the government needs to increase its revenue mobilisation but “this form will not succeed, as it will rather induce smuggling and other unorthodox ways of clearing goods, which have always impeded the government from achieving her revenue targets.”
GUTA suggested that the government look at the abuse in the system of warehousing, goods in transit, the tax exemption policy and find innovative ways to monitor and control these areas, which, according to the association, will stop or minimise drastically the excessive leakages in the system.
“We will also encourage the government to only shortlist these selected items to products that border on health and security”, the statement added.
GUTA further noted that the time is not ripe for the reversal of “this good and strategic policy, when consumers are suffering due to the high level of prices of goods,” adding that “already, prices have reached unbearable limits.”
The association urged the government to listen to their plea and help to mitigate the plight of the business community as well as the consuming public.