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Row Over imported used refrigerators

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The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has impounded about 40 articulated and smaller cargo trucks loaded with imported used refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners at the Takoradi Port pending further instruction from its head office.

The action follows the coming into effect of the ban on the importation of the second hand refrigerators into the country.

This has brought about some misunderstanding between the port authorities, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA Custom Division), destination inspectors, agents and importers over imported used refrigerators at the Takoradi Port.

The impounding of the items has frustrated owners of hundreds of containers which have already been discharged at the port while other vessels are waiting with the banned cargo.

The destination inspection companies are also frustrated because they had worked on several documents covering the banned imported cargo which arrived at the port awaiting payment of duty and clearing.

The importers and their agents are of the view that the goods arrived in the ocuntry before the ban took effect on January 1, 2013 and should not have been impounded.

Presently, the trucks of the imported used refrigerators; freezers and air conditioners have occupied the platform used for clearing purposes at the port adding to the congestion at the port.

The Takoradi Port authorities feel that their job was to receive the vessels and keep them and their contents safe, and, therefore, as far as they were concerned, there was little they do for the importer and their agents.

Legislative Instrument (LI) 1932 (2008) which bans the importation of second hand refrigerators, etc. because of high-energy consumption and the dangers they pose to the environment came into force on January 1, 2013.

The country is also said to be losing some revenue through energy wastage, hence the need to phase out those gadgets, which consume excessive electric power.

Old and used fridges, for instance, are noted to contain Chloroflurocarbon (CFC), a group of organic compounds containing elements including carbon, fluorine and in many cases, other halogens and hydrogen.

Officials of the Customs Division of the GRA confirmed to the Daily Graphic that some importers had swiftly moved to pay duty on the  banned cargo before the January 1, 2013 deadline.

Others are yet to pay their duty and the law prohibits any of the banned cargo from passing through the country's port into the market.

According to the importers, the did not understand why the GRA should hold on to the cargoes when some of them had paid their duty.  They should be allowed to move out the banned cargo.

Asked why they did not clear the goods before the deadline for the enforcement of the ban, they said: "We were aware of the ban, and we were not able to clear the cargo because of the festivities and, therefore, decided to clear them after January 1, 2013".

When contacted the Takoradi Port Operations Director, Mr. Matson Ankobea, said they  had little to do with the current situation as they were not responsible for the enforcement of the law.

At the moment, the importers and their agents are stranded and therefore demanding that they should be allowed to pay for the fridges and move them out of the port.



Source: Daily Graphic
Date: 5th January, 2013


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