Media reports indicate that Ghana is losing billions in GH¢ as a result of the systematic evasion of import duties on imported vehicles by some mafia gangs.
Under the pretext of inability to afford alleged exorbitantly high import duties at our ports, vehicle importers deliberately divert their vehicular imports to neighbouring Togo on our eastern border, which, because of a free port, charges substantially lower duties.
These vehicles are then, in one instance, driven through unapproved routes across the border and into the country, where the only thing the state gains from such vehicles is registration fees with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority.
In another scenario, the vehicles are affixed, while still in Togo, with the registration plates of old Ghanaian vehicles, which have been written off as a result of accidents. They are then driven into Ghana. Here even the DVLA does not get a pesewa in registration fees.
In yet a third operational strategy, the criminal gangs attach diplomatic number plates, which are import duty exempt until it is sold to a third party. Where the buyer has no interest in selling, he would use the car for life without paying a pesewa to the state.
Though it is said in a social context that the fewer the merrier, in economic terms it would appear that the opposite is the case, as small drops of water often develop into a mighty ocean.
The Chronicle would advocate that we set our import duties at the same level as Togo's, or even slightly lower, so that we capitalise on volumes.
Of course, there is the option of maintaining the current regime of taxes, and getting the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to tighten controls at the Ghana-Togo border. However, any possible curtailment of the activities of the criminal gangs would be a nine-day wonder, as the Customs personnel would relax after a while, or at worst, turn a blind eye, and in the process feather their own nests.
Another option would be to the turn the country into a near police state, with the police randomly stopping relatively new looking cars with 'antediluvian' plate numbers, and pull them in for questioning.
We note an advertiser's announcement in the dailies by the Shippers Council of rates it says it has negotiated with the relevant authorities, and which it advises importers to adhere to strictly, without paying more than the advertised rates for specific imports.
The Chronicle hopes the new rates are in line with its advocacy for lower import duties, so that importers would feel comfortable paying them, and not devising strategies to evade the payment of the necessary duties.
Let's constantly review our policies and strategies in a bid to maximise our gains.