The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has emphasized that cargoes that are not cleared at the ports of Ghana within the stipulated 21 days for general goods and 60 days for vehicles are by law forfeited which implies that they are the property of the state.
Speaking on Eye on Port, the Chief Revenue Officer in Charge of the State Warehouse, Customs Division of GRA, George Tettey said importers are to become conversant with this law, embedded in Section 53 of the Customs Act 891 in order not to suffer its negative consequences.
He advised importers to ensure that all necessary requirements such as fees and charges including import duties as well as the fees of the various service providers in the clearance chain are satisfied on time so that their goods are not enlisted in the Uncleared Cargo List or UCL.
George Tettey educated that in the case of uncleared goods confiscated under the state warehouse regime, it is within the remit of Customs to deploy the various legal means of retrieving the revenue inherent for the state including through auctioning.
According to him, when forfeited cargoes are confiscated, examination and valuation are done for about a 3-month period whereafter, goods are enlisted and gazetted for public auction.
He said within this period, an importer who has lost his uncleared cargo to the state, could apply to customs via the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority to make considerations based on the assessment of the importers’ plea.
The importer in this case may be granted the opportunity to either begin the clearance process again to clear his cargo where he would have to satisfy the fees of the various service providers in the clearance chain.
Alternatively, in the case where duty payments have been made after forfeiture of goods, he revealed that the Importer could be given a replacement of other forfeited goods of equivalent value.
He detailed these processes in an attempt to help the trading public understand the appropriate procedures involved after they have failed to clear their goods within the legally prescribed duration.
This was also an attempt to lay to rest the claims of an aggrieved importer who claimed his container of goods had been stolen at the Tema Port in an interview with broadcast journalist, and video blogger Kofi Adomako, on Kofi TV.
The said importer lamented that although he had paid duties twice, his container was not available for his retrieval when he went to the Tema Port.
Upon investigation, it was revealed that this importer forfeited his goods after non-payment of duties within the stipulated 21 days’ grace period given general goods for clearance in section 53 of the Customs Act 891.
George Tettey attributed majority of the plight that befall importers at the ports of Ghana to ignorance of customs laws and procedures at the ports of Ghana and explained that this can be significantly mitigated if importers approach customs for the necessary information.