A five-member Tariff Advisory Board (TAB) was on Tuesday inaugurated and charged to strengthen institutional arrangements in the implementation of the trade law and policy in the country.
Speaking at the inauguration in Accra, Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, called on members to efficiently utilize their experience and professional ideas in order for the board to serve as a focal point in guiding government on tariff-related issues.
“The Board will fill a vacuum in the Ghana trade policy that limited the ability of government to take advantage of remedies provided under the World Trade Organisation agreements,” she said.
The Trade Minister said the liberalization of Ghana’s international trade regime had resulted in the flooding of various kinds of imported goods on the Ghanaian market, adding that the condition had almost collapsed the manufacturing sector.
She expressed the hope that the establishment of TAB would provide a clear and transparent institutional framework to assess the impact of tariff policy on the competitiveness of the industry.
“It would ensure that there are clear guidelines, procedures and appropriate legislation for the determination and implementation of trade contingency measures, namely anti-dumping and countervailing measures, as well as responding to petitions from the private sector,” she said.
Ms Tetteh said the Board would provide the capacity to generate the depth of analysis required to substantiate claims, which were consistent with international trade rules that granted rights to respond to unfair trade practices based on appropriate legislation.
She said government considered the success of the private sector as a barometer of how the government would be able to deliver its campaign promises, especially on trade issues.
Ms Tetteh expressed gratitude to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly its Trade and Investment Programme for a Competitive Export Economy (TIPCEE), the World Bank, GTZ from Germany and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) for their financial contribution to the activities of the Board.
The Trade Minister administered the swearing of the oath of secrecy as well as the official oath to members of the new Board.
Members of the TAB, which is chaired by Mr Tawiah Akyea, Secretary to the Governing Council of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), are Mrs Ama Jantuah Banful, Chief State Attorney at the Ministry of Justice, Dr (Mrs) Adelaide Kastner, Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon.
The rest are Dr Essel Ben Hagan, Director of the Institute of Industrial Research (IIR) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and Dr Dominic Ayine, Law Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Mr Akyea on behalf of members, thanked the Minister for the appointment and pledged that TAB would work hard to meet the expectations of government.
Mr Oteng Gyasi, President of the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI), lauded the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the initiative and concerted efforts in ensuring that the tariff board was established to develop and strengthen trade policy in the country.
He said it was a positive sign that ensured that scientific methods of determining tariff were used in the country, and expressed the hope it would serve a useful purpose in the development and effective implementation of trade policy.
He suggested that collaborative efforts from officials of Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) was needed to clamp down on declaration of “under-invoicing” on the part of dishonest business men with the consequent loss of state funds.
“There is the need to partner with CEPS to collect the right tariffs. Just as we don’t want over-invoicing, we also don’t want to have a situation where people will under-invoice,” Mr Oteng Gyasi said.
TAB is expected to perform for a period of three years after which it would be mandated to perform as a Trade Commission based on merit.
Members of the Board are expected to advise the sector minister on tariff and trade related issues.
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