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GRA Releases Vital Medical Supplies After Port Delays

Ghana Revenue Authority Clears Pharmaceuticals for Health Ministry Amidst Backlog

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has taken a crucial step in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis by releasing 14 containers of pharmaceutical products to the Ministry of Health. These essential medical supplies, including antiretroviral drugs, had been stalled at the Tema port for nearly a year due to unresolved third-party fees.

Global Fund, the organization overseeing the donation of medical supplies to Ghana, had previously issued warnings of a possible suspension in shipments due to prolonged delays in clearing previous donations stranded at the port. In a ceremony marking the official handover of the cleared drugs to the Health Ministry, Emmanuel Ohene, Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Division of GRA, emphasized the significance of this initial batch in enhancing healthcare delivery nationwide. He underscored the critical role these drugs play in saving lives and expressed satisfaction in facilitating their distribution to health centers across the country.

Mr. Ohene urged ministries and stakeholders to collaborate with GRA to leverage the new exemption law, which could prevent charges and penalties at the port, emphasizing GRA’s commitment to customer service and providing assistance to individuals seeking clarification on tax schemes. Addressing the challenges surrounding the delays, George Winful, Director of the Revenue and Policy Division at the Ministry of Finance, acknowledged the complexities of the exemption process, which had contributed to the backlog. He disclosed that despite special provisions made by the Ministry of Finance to cover taxes, an outstanding third-party levy remained unresolved.

To address these issues effectively, the government has established an inter-governmental committee comprising representatives from key ministries and authorities, including Finance, Health, Ports and Harbours, and GRA. This committee will collaborate to ensure swift resolutions to similar challenges in the future.

The cleared medical supplies are set to be transported to Ghana Health Service warehouses by April 19, marking a significant milestone in addressing the urgent healthcare needs of the population. However, challenges persist, with 185 containers still awaiting clearance at the Tema Port and Kotoka International Airport (KIA). The government remains committed to resolving these issues promptly to ensure the uninterrupted flow of essential medical supplies into the country.

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