Government says it has cleared all outstanding debts due GEFFUND up until April this year. 

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta disclosed this when he was responding to a question posed by Member of Parliament for Akatsi North Peter Nortsu Kotoe in parliament on “ why the Ministry has failed to release to the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) its appropriated funds for August to November 2018 and January to May 2019 to enable GETFund to meet its obligations?”

Mr Ofori-Atta noted that all transfers due them for 2017 and 2018 are fully paid and the 2019 transfers due them have also been paid up to April. 

He noted that “We have paid down the 2016 arrears of over GH¢400 million we inherited, except for claims totalling GH¢76,606,349.42 which we are yet to reconcile.”

Recent revenue measures yielding results

The minister told parliament that recent revenue measures implemented are getting the desired results. 

“Over the past 3 years, year on year impressive growth in collections in 2017 and 2018 were 32.3% and 37.6%,” he added.

Mr Ofori-Atta, for instance, cites that since the introduction of the paperless system in September 2017 revenue grew by 51% (from GH¢1.8 billion in 2016 to GH¢2.8 billion in 2018).

The minister also highlighted these key points

? Reduction in clearance time by over 50% for compliant transactions
? Reduction in cost of doing business: Average clearance cost per 20 footer containers has since reduced by 75% (from GH¢1,280.00 to GH¢320.00) for compliant transactions. Elimination of the falsification of hard copies of customs declaration.

Cargo Tracking Note has had a positive impact at the ports:

? The last quarter of 2018 assessment of policy impact showed a marginal increase in import revenue by about 8.3% (declared FOB GH¢241 million against assessed FOB of GH¢261 million).
? The results of the first quarter of 2019 also indicate an increase of 4.1% in import revenue as a direct result of this policy with declared FOB value at GHC¢471million and Assessed FOB value at GH¢490 million.
? The perennial doctoring of invoices has been eliminated by about 80%.
? Information is now available to detect any suspected over-invoicing activities by importers engaging in – capital flight activities; money laundering, transfer mispricing, etc. Since its commencement over 3,285 suspected cases of over-invoicing has been identified.

The port transformation has also resulted in a 50% reduction in benchmark values on general goods and 30% reduction in Home Delivery Values (HDV) on vehicles were announced on April 4, 2019.

Transfer of 20 Customs officials

Mr Ofori-Atta said, “Mr Speaker, I together with the Minister for Transport, visited the Tema port yesterday to continue my Ministry’s monitoring of the impact of the reforms. Apparently, my visit has generated some discussions and I am reported to have fired 20 customs officials on sight.

Mr Speaker, this is not accurate, what is actually happening is for some twenty officers who have unperformed and/or have been in the same role for years to be transferred to other positions.”

Clearance of judgment debt

The Minister noted that the government’s approach is to renegotiate most of these judgement debts and ensure that the necessary savings are made. 

Ken Ofori-Atta added that “we managed to save the taxpayer GH¢90m through negotiations. In another instance, we negotiated a savings of GH¢130m on a claim of over GHS 180m” 

According to the Minister, outstanding judgment debt in January 2017 stood at GH¢482,413,354.13. In addition, a number of cases have been pending in court; out of this, a further GH¢197,076,438.15 has crystalized bringing the total amount to GH¢679,489,792.28.

Charging company registration fees without Parliamentary approval

Mr Ofori-Atta added, “we have directed the Public Procurement Authority to suspend the charging of all fees and charges that have not been approved by Parliament in accordance with Act 983”.

Source: Myjoyonline.com