GRA hands over 14 containers of medical supplies  to Health Ministry 

Story: News Desk

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has handed over 14 out of the 182 containers of locked up pharmaceutical products needed in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis to the Ministry of Health.

The essential medical commodities, including antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients, were stuck at the Tema port for almost a year due to the government’s inability to settle third-party fees.

Earlier, Global Fund had threatened to suspend the shipment of crucial medical supplies to Ghana, citing delays in clearing previous donations stuck at the Tema Port.

But speaking at a ceremony to officially hand over the cleared drugs to the Health Ministry, the Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Emmanuel Ohene, said the first batch of products would  play an important role in healthcare delivery.

“I am pleased to report that the first batch of the consignment has been cleared and it is being released to the Ministry of Health for distribution to various health centres across the country.

These drugs are vital for the survival of our fellow citizens and I am glad that they are now in the hands of those who will put it to very good use”, h said.

Mr. Ohene urged the various ministries and stakeholders to collaborate with GRA so as to take advantage of the new exemption law to clear eligible goods since “it would help in avoiding charges and penalties at the port.”

He explained that although the drugs were eligible for exemption, outstanding liabilities including third-party clearance fee charges led to them being locked up at the port.

Mr Ohene reiterated that the authority would always put the customer first and advised individuals who need clarification on certain tax schemes to seek assistance. He added that this would help people fulfill their tax obligations.

On his part, Director of the Revenue and Policy Division at the Ministry of Finance, George Winful, explained that although his outfit had made a special provision of GH₵40 million to cover transnational taxes, including African Union and Economic Community of West African State levies, there remained an outstanding third-party levy.

He said many of the players in the health delivery chain did not understand the exemption arrangement which had contributed to the delay in clearing the goods.

As such, the Ministry of Finance had collaborated with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, and Ghana Revenue Authority to resolve the matter.

Mr Winful said the government had taken cues from these incidents and established an inter-governmental committee. This committee comprises of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, and the GRA.

The committee, he said, would work together to address such matters should they arise to ensure swift resolutions.

The clear drugs are expected to be transported to the warehouses of the Ghana Health Service by or before April 19.

Meanwhile, some 185 containers at the Tema Port and Kotoka International Airport (KIA) are still waiting to be cleared.


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