The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is to auction two 40-footer refrigerated containers which have been abandoned at the Tema Port by the importer and agents.
This was after the containers were detained for alleged under-invoicing and misdescription, the Commissioner of Customs, Mr Isaac Crentsil, has said.
The two containers, numbered MNBU3011316 and MNBU3069920, were part of five others said to be holding chicken wings, whole chicken and chicken leg quarters, but were allegedly mislabelled as chicken backs, which attract a lower import value of $345 per tonne.
The containers were detained on November 24, 2017 after they were flagged for an alleged attempt to evade import duty when agents for the importer were in the process of clearing them at the Refrigerated Terminal (Reefer Yard) at the port.
According to customs, the importer of the products, White Stone Frozen Foods, through its agents, was alleged to have paid GH¢43,000 on each of the two containers, instead of about GH¢59,000 due to the alleged misdescription and under-invoicing.
A physical re-examination of the containers which was to be carried out by Customs officials at the port on November 30 had been postponed several times following what Mr Crentsil described as “the importer’s agents’ inability to come forward, in spite of the initial payments made, to clear the containers”.
Uncleared cargo list
Mr Crentsil told the Daily Graphic in an interview that Customs had not been able to impose any penalties on the importer and agents following their inability to come forward for the re-examination to be done to determine the actual value of the entire cargo using the benchmark prices.
“The agents and importer have not come forward, thereby making the re-examination to determine the penalties we can impose difficult, so we want to extend an invitation to them so we can conclude investigations into the incident,” Mr Crentsil stated.
He, however, indicated that the containers might be placed on the Uncleared Cargo List (UCL) for auction, if after the invitation the importer and agents still failed to show up.
Asked whether the containers did not pose any security risk and could possibly be holding items different from their description, the commissioner indicated that Customs had placed a 24-hour surveillance on them at the Reefer Yard at the Tema Port to ensure that they would not be moved out.
“There is continuous surveillance and monitoring on the two containers and we know who the agent and importers are, and I can assure you that they will not be taken out without the necessary re-examination and penalties recouped on the appropriate revenue tax,” Mr Crentsil observed.
Documents available to the Daily Graphic indicate that the importer, in a similar incident on October 16, 2017, was fined a 100 per cent penalty unit by Customs to the tune of GH¢111,078.64 after the company was said to have mislabelled a 40-footer container of chicken legs as chicken backs and paid a duty of GH¢57,922 as against the actual duty of GH¢84,500.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of White Stone Frozen Foods, Mrs Eunice Buah, however, declined to comment on the issue when the Daily Graphic contacted her yesterday.