Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion and in addition I present your Committee's Report.
The Customs Bill was presented to Parliament and read the First time by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson on Tuesday, 4th March, 2014 and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with article 174 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 169 and 125 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
Pursuant to the referral, the Committee met with the Hon. Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr George Blankson, officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Revenue Authority and Attorney General's Department and deliberated on the referral.
The Committee is grateful to the Hon. Deputy Minister, the Commissioner- General and officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Revenue Authority and Attorney-General Department for attending upon it.
The Committee referred to the following documents at its deliberations:
a. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
b. The Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.
c. Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (Management) Act, 1993
d. Customs House Agents (Licensing) Act, 1978 (S.M.C.D.
e. Interpretation Act, 1960 (CA4)
With the coming into force of the Ghana Revenue Authority Act, 2009 (Act 791) which integrated the three main revenue collecting agencies as Divisions of the Authority, it has become necessary to harmonise and consolidate the adminis- trative provisions in the existing tax laws into one legislation to be known as the Revenue Administration Act and to reorganise and streamline the other residual operational and charging provisions into separate legislation.
Currently, the provisions on customs operations are scattered in the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (Manage- ment) Act, 1993 (P.N.D.C .L. 330), Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (Manage- ment) (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 643) and the Customs House Agents (Licensing) Act, 1978 (S.M.C.D. 188) among others. Thus, this Bill seeks to provide a separate legislation in respect of customs matters.
The enactment of the Bill will make the law more user-friendly and reduce the obstacles to compliance. This will invariably facilitate the implementation and optimisation of revenue collection.
Purpose of the Bill
The Bill seeks to revise and consolidate existing provisions in relation to the imposition of customs duties into one single Act to make it user- friendly and to provide for related matters.
Divisions of the Bill
The Customs Bill, 2014 is divided into nineteen (19) parts with one hundred and fifty-two (152) clauses.
Clause 1 of the Bill provides for the imposition of duties and taxes on goods that are imported into the country or exported from the country.
Exemptions from the imposition of customs duties and taxes are provided for in clause 2.
Clause 3 mandates the Authority to conduct customs control including random checks on its own or in conjunction with cooperating foreign customs administrations based primarily on risk management.
Clause 4 provides for the designation of customs-controlled areas by the Commissioner-General.
Activities to be conducted in a customs-controlled area are provided for in clause 5.
Conditions for the release of goods by the Commissioner-General are provided for in clause 6.
Clause 7 provides for post-clearance audit by the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Clause 8 deals with the registration of Authorised Economic Operators.
Clause 9 places an obligation on an owner, importer, consignee, exporter, entry filer or any other person required to keep records under the Act to keep the records in its original form, which includes the electronic form, unless the Commissioner- General approves an alternative method of storage.
Clause 10 provides for the Revenue Authority to establish a Customs Laboratory in accordance with the requirements of the World Customs Organisation.
Clauses 11 to 14 make provision for customs information. They provide for a person who is directly or indirectly involved in the accomplishment of customs formality or in customs controls to provide the requisite documents and information to the Commissioner-General and that person is responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the information and the authenticity of the documents provided.
Clauses 15 to 30 provide for the arrival and departure of conveyance.
Clause 15 defines a ‘master of a conveyance' as a person who is in charge of a conveyance or the agent of the Master.
Clause 16 provides for the right of the Commissioner-General to specify a place where a conveyance which arrives in the country shall touch for purpose of mooring or unloading.
Clause 17 provides for the master or an agent of a conveyance to make a report of the conveyance and the stores and cargo in the conveyance to the Commissioner- General within twenty-four hours after arrival from outside the country. The penalty for failure to make a report on the arrival of a conveyance is spelt out in clause 18.
Clauses 19 to 20 stipulate the duties of a master, in relation to a conveyance, its cargo, stores, baggage, crew and passen- gers. These include the requirement to produce all books and documents in the custody or control of the master, breaking of bulk and the consequences of breaking
bulk without knowledge and consent of the Commissioner-General.
Clause 21 authorises the Com- missioner-General to direct at what particular part of a port or other place that a conveyance must moor or unload its cargo and a master who fails to comply with a directive of the Commissioner- General is liable to have the cargo forfeited to the State.
Clause 22 deals with liability of goods other than cargo that is subject to forfeiture. It stipulates that goods other than cargo must not be taken out of a conveyance arriving from outside the country or delivered to a person aboard the conveyance unless the goods are for the consumption or use of the crew or passengers and the penalties and charges for a breach are spelt out in clause 23.
Provisions are made under clause 24 for matters regarding stores of an aircraft or a ship. The clause gives discretion to a proper officer to permit the master of an aircraft or ship departing from a port in the country on a flight or voyage to a place outside the country, to take on board the conveyance stores for the use of the aircraft or ship and for the use of the master, crew and passengers. The Commissioner-General may require a master of a conveyance of stores to take appropriate steps to prevent unauthorised used of stores including sealing of the stores where necessary.
Clause 25 deals with the departure of a conveyance from the country. A master or an agent of a conveyance which is leaving the country is required to deliver to the proper officer an entry outwards of the conveyance which must specify among other matters that goods left on board the conveyance are only goods
required for use as stores and where necessary the master of the conveyance must obtain a certificate of rummage from the proper officer.
Clause 26 prohibits a person from putting goods on board a conveyance for exportation or use as stores, or into a vessel to be water-borne except under specified conditions while clause 27 deals with goods for export or use as stores. It prohibits a person from putting on board an exporting ship, goods that have been put into a vessel to be water-borne to another ship for exportation or for use as stores, outside the limits of a port.
It also authorises a proper officer on reasonable suspicion to open and examine all goods put on board a conveyance or brought to any place in the county to be put on board a conveyance for exporta- tion or for use as stores.
Under clauses 28 and 29 an exporter is required to give security that the Commissioner-General may require before entering goods on board a conveyance for use as stores or for export or transfer. A master of a conveyance or an authorised agent is also required to immediately before of the departure of a conveyance from a port or any other place in the country, deliver to the proper office the content of the conveyance, and master or authorised agent who fails to comply with this provision is liable to pay a penalty equivalent to fifty penalty units, clause
Clauses 31 to 42 deal with coasting trade, coasting, in clause 31, is described as trade by air or sea, from one part of the country to another part of the country. Under this clause, the Commissioner- General is given the discretion to impose conditions for the loading, unloading and movement of goods involved in coasting.