President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed the government's commitment to support the oil palm industry to enable it reach its full potential of creating jobs and contributing to the growth of the economy.
The President observed that a country like Malaysia adopted the oil palm business from Ghana and had developed it into a "16 billion-dollar industry per year", while Ghana "is facing serious challenges at her attempts to develop the sector."
In a meeting with the Oil Palm Association of Ghana at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday, President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance that the government would explore all available avenues to address the challenges in the sector.
"I want you to have a clear understanding that the overall posturing of my government is to be very sympathetic to your development."
"I think it will make a lot of sense for Ghana if we could find a consensus and a meeting of minds on how to address the challenges that are bothering you because ultimately we will be the big gainers of it," President Akufo-Addo said.
The association, through its spokesperson, Samuel Avaala, appealed to the government to exempt vegetable oils from the 50 per cent reduction on the import benchmark values with immediate effect.
The association said the impact of the policy was adversely affecting the local palm oil industry and indicated that the government was losing an estimated three million dollars loss of revenue per month
Mr Avaala said the policy had legitimised under invoicing, leading to the flooding of the Ghanaian markets with cheaper and substandard vegetable oils.
"Estimates of the undeclared importation (not conforming to regulatory standard) stands at approximate 6,000 to 7,000 metric tonnes per month and a loss in revenue through tax evasion stands at an estimated three million dollars per month (up by 400 per cent compared to 2008)," he said.
According to him, a 25 litre vegetable oil produced locally is sold on the market for GH¢140 inclusive of duty, levies, Value Added Tax and logistics but imported vegetable oil products are sold on the market at the cost of G¢113.
Among other things, the association expects "that vegetable oils should be exempted from the 50 per cent reduction on import benchmark values immediately, and that the importation of vegetable oil should be restricted to the Tema and Takoradi ports only."
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akoto Afriyie assured the association that under the leadership of the President, government would consider their request for a review of the 50 per cent tariff reduction regime on oil palm importation.