Government is reported to have suspended the implementation of the law banning the importation of salvaged vehicles and those older than ten years brought into the country and sold as spare parts by dealers.
The Customs Amendment Act, 2020 was supposed to take effect on November 1, 2020 despite huge protests by spare parts dealers in Abossey Okai and Kokompe in Accra, and Suame Magazine in the Ashanti Region, with a promise by the opposition leader, John Mahama to scrap the law if he wins the 2020 presidential elections.
The NDC flagbearer's promise was hailed by the dealers with some promising to even pay his filling fees at the Electoral Commission (EC) for him to come and keep them in business, and be able to feed themselves and their dependents.
But the Tema Regional Chairman of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Alex Asiamah, yesterday disclosed that the Customs Commander at the Tema Port, has announced the suspension of the law.
However, a public statement is yet to be issued by the Akufo-Addo government through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) which has oversight responsibility over Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).
Many are likely to see this as yet another panic reaction by the NPP administration months after same John Maama had gotten Akufo-Addo government to scrap the special tax on luxury vehicles as well as vehicles with higher engine capacity, by promising to scrap the Luxury Vehicle Tax.
That tax was introduced in July 2018 to levy vehicles with big engine capacities with those having capacities of between 3.0 and 3.5 litres paying an annual tax of GH¢1,000 while others with capacities of 3.6 to 4.0 litres paid GH¢1,500 and those with 4.1 litres and above paying GH¢2,000. Under the law, toilet tracks were also classified as luxury vehicles due to their engine capacities.
In an interview with Citi News yesterday, Alex Asiamah stated that: "Just this evening I received information informing the general public, stakeholders and the importing public that, Customs will continue to do their normal clearance of such vehicles. So, the importers can go on with their business of importing such cars. So that's the news at the moment. It is coming from the Ministry [of Finance], but through our sector commander, the Assistant Commander of Customs in Tema," he said.
The Customs Amendment Act 2020 among other things, provides incentives for automobile manufacturers and assemblers registered under the Ghana Automotive Manufacturers Programme and prohibits the importation of salvaged motor vehicles and cars over ten years of age into the country.
It was passed by Parliament in March and was expected to be rolled out in November 2020.
The announcement by the government to implement the said Act effective November 1, 2020, was received with much agitation by industry players including the coalition of car and spare parts dealers association of Ghana as well as freight forwarders who had threatened to stage a demonstration to protest against the implementation of the Act.
Mr. Alex Asiamah insisted that the law really made vehicle importers unhappy.
"You could remember that when the news came, importers or dealers in those cars were not happy about it and then it was even twisted in different directions to make it look like something odd," he said.
He indicated that based on the suspension of the law, "for us as freight forwarders, we will continue to enjoy our business of providing such cars for our customers and when that one happens, it means we are going to continue to enjoy the service so it's welcoming news."