The Rice Millers Association of Ghana (RMAG) is calling for a reversal of the benchmark value reduction policy of the government.
The benchmark values are references that the customs use in determining values of imports for the determination of customs duties at the country’s ports.
The Rice Millers Association of Ghana has noted that the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) in recent weeks has been calling for the benchmark discount policy to be maintained by the government citing the possible increase in the prices of imported goods in the country as their reason.
In spite of the arguments by GUTA, RMAG maintains that the policy over the 2 years has made very negative impact on the Ghana rice industry as most rice mills are currently shutdown and workers laid off.
This is as a result of the high cost of local production while the imported substitutes enjoy a 50% reduction in customs benchmark values making imported rice prices very low and rendering local alternatives very uncompetitive on the market.
It is important to also note that farmers in the countries of origin of imported rice enjoy massive support and huge subsidies in their production whereas farmers in Ghana have little or no subsidies for rice production.
We believe that this policy is only beneficial to a select few traders particularly big importers of rice and other commodities while the entire rice value chain in Ghana suffers.
The consuming public has not actually benefitted from this reduction in benchmark values because prices of products have not gone down as expected over the past 2 years since the inception of the policy.
The rice value chain in Ghana provides income to an estimated 500,000 persons in household engaged in various activities in the value chain.
Many of these people are currently going through very tough times because of unfavorable market condition that have been occasioned by the policy.
Whereas government has set a target of making Ghana self-sufficient in rice production by 2022, major rice mills are shut down.
The RMAG as a key player in helping the government achieve this target remains very skeptical about Ghana’s prospects of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production by 2022. Till this day, 90% of rice brands seen on shelves in or markets are all imported.
“It is very unfortunate that GUTA appears to be threatening government not to review the policy after 2 years of its implementation. The government has learnt practically (after 2 years) that traffic to our ports have not increased as anticipated and prospects of increased revenue that was to be a result of the policy has remained elusive; this policy only enriches a few importers and not the general population of traders in Ghana as the GUTA seeks to portray.
The Rice millers Association of Ghana wishes to call on the government to review the policy in light of the lessons learnt over time to save the rice industry and local industry in general.
RMAG as well as the many Ghanaian workers who have lost their jobs and livelihood as a result of this policy stand in solidarity with the government to be bold with its intentions to review this policy to support key targeted sectors where local capacity exists to create jobs and help the government achieve its agenda for industrialization.
The time to act is now.
Mr. Yaw Adu-Poku