As the country continues to grapple with the continuous increase in cement prices, local cement manufacturers says efforts are being made to avert high production cost having effects on low retail prices; however, the continuous existence of a fumigation levy (Ghana Health Service Disinfectant levy) on imported raw materials is hindering such efforts.
Cement manufacturers have over the past 4 years been continuously paying US$0.50 per tonne, which translates to about millions of dollars per annum to fumigate’ cement raw material, such as clinker, before clearance at the ports; a situation the Chamber of Cement manufacturers, Ghana (COCMAG) has described as pure extortion, arguing that one cannot pay for a service with no work done.
Rev. Dr. George Dawson-Ahmoah, Executive Secretary of COCMAG who spoke to the press on the issue, informed that the Chamber supported by the Ministry of Trade and Industry has made several appeals for government to waive the fumigation fee being collected at the ports, arguing that the exercise is not necessary for dry cargo such as clinker, limestone and other cement raw materials – which most often do not exit through the port gate.
“This levy yields some millions of dollars, an amount the cement manufacturers could have used to enhance its productivity to create more employment.
“In fact, this is pure extortion because we’re being charged for no work done; and experts including the Ghana Ports Authority, Ghana Standards Authority and other meaningful stakeholders have all attested to the fact that fumigation of cement raw materials is absolutely unnecessary,” Rev. Dr. Dawson-Ahmoah submitted.
He added that even more worrisome is the fact that this levy is an additional cost to cement production. “Due to instability in the local currency, high freight charges leading to high cost of raw materials, we’ve seen a continuous rise in cement prices for some time now; and to entertain the extortion of a so-called fumigation levy will worsen the situation.
“We are therefore calling on government to as a matter of urgency call the Ministry of Health to order to salvage the situation and avert any future adverse implications on the cement industry.” said Rev. Dr. Dawson
Experts kick against fumigation levy on cement components
Newsmen caught up with some technical experts at the Port Health in the Tema and Takoradi ports, who admitted that indeed the cement components including clinker are not injurious to safety and moreover so do not pass through the machines which disinfect any item entering into the country; as such, the call by cement manufacturers to waive such a fumigation levy is in order.
Their concern is that since the cement components do not pass through the channel when they arrive, why are cement manufacturers being charged for a service which is not being rendered? The health service disinfection levy is about service, it’s a service tax; and once it’s a service tax and no service is being rendered on these cement components, if it’s waived this is appropriate.
Chamber of Cement Manufactures, Ghana (COCMAG)
The Chamber of Cement Manufacturers-Ghana (COCMAG) is the mouthpiece for the cement industry, legally registered since 2017 with the avowed aim of creating an advocacy for fair trade practices within the cement industry.
In view of its sensitivity to the economy, government – represented by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) – has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with COCMAG to collaborate on strategic issues confronting the industry; and also in the process of signing an MoU with the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to collaborate on protecting the integrity of buildings and infrastructures in the country by adherence to the appropriate standards.