Customs Division’s auctioning process of goods has no secrecy, Mr. Justice Yadjayime, a Supervisor at the Vehicle Valuation Unit at the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has stated.
He told the media in an interview on the sidelines of a forum organized to educate stakeholders on the process that the auction process followed a transparent standard operating procedure, explaining that allocations of uncleared cargoes were permissible by law.
“If you look at the Customs Act 891, Section 93, it empowers the Commissioner or Commissioner-General to use auctions or dispose of with any other method including allocation,” he noted.
Reacting to some issues raised by freight forwarders and customs brokers on the Customs Auction Regime in Ghana, Mr Yadjayime disclosed to the media that perishable goods do not go through the stated processes for auctioning as they could be given out at any time to avoid spoilage.
He urged importers and their agents to get accustomed to the customs laws about auctions to have a better understanding of the processes.
Meanwhile, the Customs Brokers Association of Ghana (CUBAG), and the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, have called for transparency and fairness in the auction process as they believed the ongoing operations of a certain syndicate negatively affect the proper auction process, and this they said has confused importers and agents at the country’s ports.
Nana Fredua Agyemang Ofori-Atta, Acting President of CUBAG said despite the existence of the standard operating procedure, sometimes we encounter some Customs officers and procedures which seek to perpetuate underhand dealings.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said, “People come in the name of all forms of institutions, like National Security, with letters and claim such entities have allowed them to take certain things, there are too many of them.”
He said the alleged syndicate has mastered the art of fishing out high-value goods among the goods, and right at the end of the 14-day grace period for clearance, they were able to gain access to such uncleared cargoes.
He stated, “There are even instances, where the importers have managed to pay for the duty at the last minute and are in the process to find funds to pay for the accrued rent, but before they realize, the containers are nowhere to be found.”
Mr. Jonny Mantey, Chairman of the Tema Chapter of GIFF on his part said all they wanted was some clarity within the auctioning space, adding that if he had paid and granted restoration of his cargo, what were the processes he must go through to redeem his cargo.
“What is in the law, Act 891, is not what pertains today on the ground. So, it is important we look at this matter critically to ensure that people who have no business in the port do not come near overstayed cargoes,” he said.
Mr Mantey added that “there are occasions where one is granted restoration by customs, but upon arrival in the port, the container is not there. This suggests there was an allocation that was done without customs knowing. How do we fix this puzzle?