On Tuesday March 3, 2020, Parliament adopted and approved the Joint Committees on Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism report for amendments to be made in the Customs Act, 2015.
The new Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2020 sought to amend the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) to provide incentives for automotive manufacturers and assemblers registered under the Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Programme (GAMDP).
The Bill is also to prohibit the importation of salvaged motor vehicles comprising wrecked, destroyed, or physically damaged by collision, fire, water or other occurrences as well as specified motor vehicles over 10 years of age into the country.
The Customs (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will also increase the import duty on specific motor vehicles and provide import duty exemptions for the security agencies and officers of the security agencies especially those who go on various assignments and peacekeeping in the security interest of Ghana.
The Bill was subsequently referred to the Joint Committees on Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism for consideration and report in accordance with Article 174 of the Constitution and Orders 159 and 169 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
Speaking on Eye on Port’s live interactive programme, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism, Nana Marfo Amaniampong confirmed that the President of the Republic has assented to the bill and thus become law from 30th of April 2019.
“You know, under the customs Amendment Bill 20202, its been assented, but you know we had to wait six months before it becomes operational, so effective October, if nothing untoward happens, it may come into force,” the Chairman confirmed.
He said it’s instructive, that 6 months after the bill became law which in this case is 30th of October, 2020, its enforcement will commence.
“Left to me, I would love a total ban so that there will be pressure on us to act and deploy all arsenals so that production may be tripled and everybody in Ghana may begin to drive a brand new car but given where we are coming from, that may be difficult at the moment, but at least that should be the direction of the nation,” he urged.
Nana Marfo Amaniampong who is also the Member of Parliament for Afigya-Kwabre North Constituency explained that the time has come for the nation to move away from reliance on such salvaged, rickety and old vehicles to protect and improve the lives of its citizens.
“We cannot continue to depend on the salvaged cars. And you know, these high rate of accidents, we have on our roads can largely be attributed to that angle,” Nana Marfo Amaniampong said.
A Deputy Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament for Tema East Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus Glover, also a former Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism contributing on the subject of the banning of salvaged and overaged vehicles said the law is in line with the overall agenda of government towards transforming the Transportation sector of the nation’s economy.
“The major essence of the Ministry and for that matter, the vision of the President as to how we can promote effective public transport system because we have too much congestion on our major roads,” the Deputy Minister of Transport said.
He said when the enforcement of the law commences, it will improve the transport sector through modernized standards. “I believe sincerely that, we can cure this problem of congestion, where we have all kinds of vehicles that are overaged being imported into our country and also serve as another way to prevent Ghana becoming a dumping ground for such substandard vehicles. And there are times that when some of these vehicles are imported, their parts may not even be available and they have to improvise and these contribute to some of the accidents on our roads,” he explained.
He said the law will ensure safety of cars, drivers and passengers and reduce records of accidents and traffic congestion in Ghana.
“We cannot say that because of the Commercial vehicles, we should allow all kinds of vehicles into our country, there should be a stop somewhere, so that we will be able to control the system. And some of these vehicles come in the form of cargo vans then they are sent to the garages and do some improvise seats in those wagons but originally that’s not how they came,” Titus-Glover emphasized.
The Deputy Minister urged Ghanaians to re-orient themselves to embrace the new law that will ban the importation of such salvaged and overaged vehicles as the Ministry of Finance lead the way to commence public sensitization.
“Importers need to conform with the law and to do that, it is a matter of education and advocacy to let the public know, because even somebody will say that the law has been passed and we are not aware of it, indeed ignorance of the law is no excuse, but the Ministry of Finance and Customs Division must commence intensive education to sensitize, that the following law will be operational from October barring all unforeseen circumstances,” the Deputy Transport Minister and Member of Parliament advised.