The General Secretary of the Vehicle and Assets Dealers’ Union, Frank Atanley Kofigah has described as treacherous and wicked the government’s decision to remove the benchmark value policy on car importations.

According to him, it is counterintuitive to scrap the benchmark value on car importations considering the country can barely boast of an automobile industry.

“Do we manufacture vehicles in Ghana? If the government is looking at scrapping the 30% benchmark or bringing it back, the question I want to ask is to what good would that be? How will it help industrialization in terms of the automobile market? And how will government rake in the revenue desired to help that sector?” he quizzed.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express show, he stated that the most prudent line of action by government was to introduce a measure to reduce economic blow the pandemic has dealt the local automotive industry.

“As other countries are giving incentives and measures to industry and small scale and medium scale enterprises, to thrive, but what are we seeing? We are seeing a full-blown 30% and 50% being reintroduced,” he said.

He bemoaned the government’s prioritization of foreign businesses in the automotive industry against the local businesses that have been contributing immensely to Ghana’s economy.

“Now if you look at the automotive policy that brought in various brands from Europe to start assembling plants, government says that there is the need to boost investor confidence – the reason tax holidays were given, you have all these vehicles and imports coming in with no duty, they come in, sell these vehicles at high prices and at the end of the day they repatriate their profits.

“The Vehicle and Assets Dealers’ Union contributes 90% to the total import of vehicles that come into this country. Those into the brand new sector contribute only 10%. So majority of the revenue that comes in through these exit ports from the automobile sector is from the Vehicle and Assets Dealers’ Union and our members are scattered across the country,” he said.

He added that “So if we wake up one morning after Christmas holidays and government says that the implementation of such a policy takes effect immediately, the question we’re asking is in this era of Covid where patronage has been low before, during and after the holidays is it the right time for government to roll out such a policy?”

He countered assertions from the AGI that the rollback of the benchmark value policy was pursuant to realizing Ghana’s industrialization potential.

According to him, the rollback disproportionately benefits the foreign car assemblages who have been at the receiving end of government’s goodies while they languish in the hostile economic environment the rollback will create.

We’ve had a lot of stakeholder engagement and all that, and I beg to differ from the conversation of industrialization and all that. A policy that government considered as good, prudent to help the local economy or the local dealers.

“The question is was it a well-thought-out plan? A well-thought-out policy? And how can this help? Because if you ask me, I’ll tell you that the same business that the manufacturers or the assemblers are doing is the same business we are also doing, so why do you enrich them at our disadvantage?”