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Affixing tax stamps on excise goods such as alcoholic beverages at the country’s ports is facing some challenges as a result of changes in the service provider.
The new stamps supplied by Buck Press and its foreign partner, Delarue, according to the operators of the facility, Streamline Resources, could not fit into the stamping devices following the exit of Authentix, the company which previously produced and supplied the excise stamps.
The situation has thus caused the stamps to be fixed manually, thereby significantly slowing down the processing of containers from an average of 11 in 24 hours to one in the same period.
Some importers say the delay comes with associated costs in terms of transport fares and container demurrage fees.
The situation has resulted in many haulage trucks spending nearly two to three weeks at the facility, leading to indiscriminate parking of the trucks along the streets near the Tema Port where the facility is located.
An importer, Mr Sameer Thakkar, told the Daily Graphic that importers had to spend large sums of money to hire haulage trucks to transport the beverages, with delays attracting more charges.
The cost ranged from GH¢650 to GH¢700 per day on trips within Tema, while those outside Tema attracted a minimum fare of GH¢1,000, depending on the destination, with delays attracting an additional GH¢200 per day, Mr Thakkar said.
Another importer, Mr Johny Mantey, said importers had been saddled with demurrage charges of about GH¢12,000, since they were unable to return the containers to the shipping lines in reasonable time.
Other charges relate to repackaging the products before they are distributed to the markets, since the original packaging on them is often destroyed at the stamping facility and the items subsequently wrapped using shrink wrappers.
He wondered why Customs, which had a database of all importers of beverage products that attracted import excise stamp tax, could not introduce a mechanism whereby the stamps would be released to importers to stamp at their own facilities, under the supervision of Customs officers, before they are distributed.
The Project Consultant at Streamline Resources, Dr Andrew Boye, said the challenges were being addressed with the procurement of a new consignment of stamps to aid high performance and quicker turnaround.
He told the Daily Graphic during a tour of the facility last Friday that the provider had made modifications to the stamps to ensure they were compatible with the affixing devices at the facility, thereby increasing work flow.
Dr Boye partly blamed the delay on the import community, saying: “Some importers often book their products for fixing when their declarations have not even been accepted by Customs, and this causes unnecessary delay, coupled with space constraints,” he said.
The new facility being installed, he said, had more automated lines for the stamping to ensure speedy processing of products.
Dr Boye said the system would have a framework where managers would only process products that had had their declarations fully accepted by Customs for release.
“This new facility will be able to process about 13 containers, thereby increasing processing to about 25 containers a day. This, we believe, will ensure a quicker turnaround for beverage imports,” Dr Boye said.
On the concerns raised over possible COVID-19 contamination of the products, Dr Boye stressed that although the staff were consistently sensitised to the need to follow the protocols, managers had had challenges with enforcing the rules owing to the nature of the work.
“We are going to tighten measures when we move to the new site, as well as reconfigure the old site to be more aligned to good practice,” Dr Boye emphasised