National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Sammy Gyamfi says the government cannot blame its recent decision to reverse the benchmark value at the ports on the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the party’s press conference on Wednesday, January 5, Sammy Gyamfi noted that the government exceeded its revenue target during the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, therefore it cannot be an excuse for the government to cite covid-19 as its reason for the benchmark review.

He added that checks by the party indicate that the government has exceeded its revenue target for 2021 as well, stressing that it would be inconvenient for covid-19 to be a justification for the government’s decision.

“As always, it would come as no surprise to us for government’s apologists led by Dr. Bawumia himself to once again canvass the COVID-19 pandemic as a convenient excuse for the decision to reverse benchmark value discounts. However, it is important to state forcefully that COVID-19 can never be blamed for the reversal of benchmark values. The government exceeded its revenue target for the year 2020 (COVID year) and actually raked in more revenue than they did before COVID struck.

“For instance, in the year 2019 before the advent of COVID-19, total tax revenue stood at just about GHS43 billion, while total tax revenue for 2020 (covid-year) stood at GHS45.3 billion, thereby exceeding government’s tax revenue target for 2020 by a whopping GHS2.5 billion.

“Also, whereas the government projected total tax revenue of GHS55 billion for the 2021 fiscal year, our checks show that this revenue target has been exceeded. Therefore, we contend that COVID-19 can neither be a reasonable justification for the reversal of benchmark discounts on imported products nor the imposition of unprecedented hardships and misery on Ghanaians by this government,” he explained.

According to Sammy Gyamfi, the reversal of benchmark value discounts is “a draconian policy which will adversely affect the living conditions of all us irrespective of our social backgrounds and political affiliations.”

The benchmark review policy which is supposed to take effect on January 4, 2022, has been suspended until January 6, 2022.

A credible source at the Ghana Revenue Authority revealed to JoyNews, and checks at the ports show that agents are clearing their goods with the old charges.

It is unclear what informed the sudden change of plan and the implementation of the old charges at the ports.