Shippers afraid of impact of G-CAP on importers/exporters

The Greater Accra Region Shipper Committee (GARSC) has reiterated that the implementation of the Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP) could jeopardize the businesses of importers and exporters.

“G-CAP may give rise to unnecessary delays; whilst inspection of goods at remote locations (factory/warehouse premises) and outlandish countries are bound to cause excessive delays as they did under the pre-shipment inspection regime.

“Parameters for the inspection of used vehicles, used engines and vehicle parts have not been clearly spelt out and can pose a serious challenge if left to the discretion of Inspectors,” Ms. Adobea Asiama Aboagye, GARSC Chairperson stated at a press conference in Tema.

The press conference attended by regional executives including Mr Nick Ayison, ABC Management Solution; Mr Ferdinand Okine, GIHOC Distilleries; Ms Dzifah Obuamah, UNILEVER Ghana; Mr Jacob L. Ahiator, DANNEX Limited; and Mr Daniel Asomani, Custom Brokers Association of Ghana.

The rest are Mr Shaibu Halidu, Road Transporters & Transport Brokers Association was to shed some light on the impact of G-CAP policy on the businesses of importers and exporters in Ghana.

Ms Aboagye said the Conformity Assessment regime does not cater for the shipment of expedited goods such as mining or equipment spares, which must be delivered urgently, say, within two days.

“This is because, according to the service providers of the G-CAP, the Conformity Assessment is supposed to take a period of four working days and two additional working days for a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) to be issued.

“Over this period, a plant could risk shutting down if spares are not supplied expeditiously,” she said.

The GARSC Chairperson noted that the system is independent of the other regulatory functions performed at the ports by other Agencies which also still take samples and conduct tests.

She said the least Ghana Standard Authority could have done with such a system was to have collaborated with other Agencies to harmonize and consolidate their requirements into the system, thereby making it a one-stop-shop platform.

“G-CAP fees, apart from being very high also use the ad-valorem system (0.5% of FOB value of goods) as a basis for the verification fees and this is questionable.

“For example, the process of inspection involves sighting cargo and verifying documentation; this has nothing to do with the cost of the cargo. It is obvious that there is no work difference between inspecting a Sony VIAO laptop and inspecting a certain clone laptop; but because the FOB value of the Sony may be higher, its verification fees may be equally higher. This principle is not only inexplicable, it is bizarre,” she said.

Ms Aboagye explained that “in a classical case of the importation of vehicles, a consignment of about 150 cars would result in USD 11,274.76 i.e. GH¢36,065.70 as conformity charges excluding visiting the plant and testing.

“Another shipment of 20 vehicles will also attract GH¢15,104.53 as conformity charges alone. The model and brand of vehicle greatly influences the charge when the supposed service does not have any direct correlation to cost of the commodity

“The minimum verification fee ranges from USD250 to USD300. This means that if there was a shipment with FOB less than USD 50,000, it would still attract the minimum fee of USD 250. This is a clear disincentive to small scale importers”.

She said the request for transport documents, such as bills of lading, commercial invoices among others for a system that is based on the quality of goods is still unclear.

Stressing that transport documents essentially do not at all relate to quality and standards and it is important to note that the Destination Inspection Companies would still require these documents to carry out their duties of classification and verification.

“There is no known legislative instrument in place providing the legal basis for the implementation of the system, especially where fees and sanctions for non-compliance are involved.

“The GSA refers the Exports and Imports Act 1995, (Act 503) as amended by the Exports and Imports (Amendment) Act 2000 (Act 585) as the law that mandates it to implement the G-CAP,” she said.

Ms Aboagye said: “it is interesting to note however that Section three of the Act in reference (Act 585) specifically states as follows – the Minister of Trade may in writing appoint inspectors to conduct the destination inspection of commercial imports at the port or point of clearance of goods.

“The move is therefore seen to be contrary to what the law mandated the GSA to do. The Conformity Assessment Certification does not exempt basic raw materials for manufacturing, and that can be injurious to our local manufacturing industry”.

She said: “It is the view of the GARSC that the entire programme was rushed and lacked the relevant inputs that could have streamlined its implementation in a more acceptable fashion.

“While the idea of preventing shoddy goods from being imported into Ghana is not bad in itself, as far as we are concerned, this policy would distort the current business practices and procedures that have evolved following the introduction of the Destination Inspection Scheme in April 2000”.

The Greater Accra Regional Shippers Committee therefore recommends that the programme is abolished. “GSA should engage with all stakeholders and seek more innovative ways of preventing shoddy goods from entering the country”.

The GSA in partnership with Societe Generale de Suivellance (SGS) has commenced a process for the implementation of the G-CAP, which according to them is expected to prevent the importation of unsafe, sub-standard and or counterfeit goods into the country.

Among the reasons advanced for the introduction of the G-CAP was the GSA’s inability to have physical inspection of the goods, the submission of falsified certificates from shippers and non- cooperation from Customs, Ms Aboagye stated.

On why the Shippers Committee was coming out now, Ms Aboagye said one of the main issues that has compelled this action by the GARSC is that certain actors are conspiring to upstage the well intentioned intervention by the Ministry of Trade, culminating in the suspension until broader consultations are made on the programme and a decision taken on the way forward.

She said in spite of the suspension by the Trade Ministry several notices are being sent to suppliers (by SGS and BIVAC), fixing the commencement date of G-CAP for this thereby creating uncertainties among suppliers about shipments to Ghana.

source : GNA