The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has called for stricter sanctions for Freight Forward Operators, Customs Officers as well as individuals and institutions who fail to adhere to due processes in the export of food and other items to foreign markets.
The Minister says the time has come for government to impose severe penalties on those whose negligent of duty is causing the country millions of dollars following the ban on exports of vegetables and other food items to the European Union Markets.
The EU imposed a ban on export of some food items to its market two years ago following what it said was failure on the part of the country to adhere to international standards and protocols regarding exports of food items to the EU market.
Ghana currently exports less than 200 metric tonnes of food items to the EU since the ban, a figure which is only 10% of previous value of 2,000 metric tonnes.
The situation means that Ghana loses millions of dollars of exports and consequently affecting revenue generation.
But the Minister of Food and Agriculture believes the unfortunate situation can be reversed if all stakeholders commit themselves to abiding by the rules and procedures involved in the export of food items, cautioning that any institution that fails to rigorously adhere to rules and protocols must be severely dealt with.
He cited particularly the apparent negligent of duty on the part of some officers of Custom Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) and Freight Forwarders, who deliberately allow items to pass through without proper certification.
Addressing a Stakeholders’ Meeting in Accra Dr Afriyie Akoto, said government was very much concerned about the development and would put in place measures to rectify the anomaly.
The technical meeting, which was attended by representatives from the National Security, Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), Association of Freight Forwarders and some selected Airlines, is expected to address the various challenges and fashion out modalities that will help ensure the lifting of the ban.
He said as the coordinating Ministry, MOFA will adopt several measures, including the empowerment of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Division (PPRSD) to make its regulatory operations more efficient.
Dr. Akoto therefore charged participants to dispassionately discuss the issues and come out with recommendations that will help address the bottlenecks.
Ghana has another chance to review the ban in September this year.