Ghana loses more than US$3 billion annually from export proceeds, a third of the nation’s export value, due to exporters flouting foreign account regulations, Eric Hammond, Head of Banking at the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has said.

“People export and they don’t want to repatriate the proceeds, “he said. He added that,”we have gathered some clients who have failed to repatriate their foreign exchange back into Ghana, so we will call on them to produce evidence of their repatriation receipts.”

Speaking at the GT Bank sponsored Importers and Exporters Seminar in Accra, which came off at the Movenpick Hotel, Mr Hammond stressed that repatriating monies earned from exports is compulsory.

According to Section 15 of the Foreign Exchange Act, exporters who fail to repatriate their export proceeds to Ghana are liable to a fine of five penalty points and they can also be imprisoned for not more than 10yrs.

“Exporters shall ensure repatriation of export proceeds in accordance with the terms of the export, provided that all export proceeds shall be received and repatriated immediately within a period not exceeding 60 days from the day of shipment of goods,” Eric Hammond said.

He added that the BoG is currently going through a list of exporters who don’t comply, and they will soon be arraigned before court, since it is a criminal offence not to repatriate export proceeds.

Mr Hammond also cautioned exporters against using the black forex market, saying it is illegal, and that the country needs foreign exchange to develop.

“When exporters need foreign currency for their transactions, the same black market will sell it to them at a very expensive rate, to make up for the difference when they sold it,” he added.

He also warned importers who use the transit system as a smoke screen in order to avoid the payment of import duties that, “they will soon be arrested.”

He noted that the Pre-Arrival Assessment Reporting System (PAARS), a system introduced by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to process import documents, will help all commercial banks check anomalies in import and export.

He advised exporters to help freight forwarders fill in all forms and not leave every little detail to the freight forwarders since they can inaccurately fill the forms.