The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has denied accusations by the Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA) and the Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG) that the Authority has composed several task forces to harass and extort monies from their members, and also arrest their goods in transit, with the view of imposing heavy fines on their owners.
GRA in its response asserts that it employs various methods such as invigilation and compliance visits to Value Added Tax (VAT) registered entities to test purchase and where they find infractions on this duty, those entities are closed down.
The Authority explained that under the Amended VAT Act, 2022, (Act 1082), it has the power to impose an upfront payment of 12.5% of the customs value of taxable goods (including vehicles) imported by persons who are required to register for VAT but have failed to register at all ports of entry.
Such importers, the statement said, will be allowed to recover this payment when they register and file their VAT returns, as required by the Act.
The GRA explained that the Customs Division in particular, has put in place four Monitoring task forces to curtail smuggling, under declaration, ‘mis-description’ and the concealment of goods, thereby ensuring that the right amount of duties and taxes are paid by importers.
These task forces include including monitoring teams stationed in Tema, Dabala, Kumasi and a nationwide vehicle task force.
The Monitoring task forces, the GRA statement said, have significantly impacted on revenue mobilization between October 2022 and August 2023.
In total, they have managed to rake in about GH¢181.4 million (GH¢181,478,845).
The Tema Team for instance, recovered a total collection of around GH¢153.8 million (GH¢153,802,495.54).
The Eastern Frontier Monitoring Team also recovered a total short collection of GH¢4.6 million (GH¢4,684,844.42).
The he Western Frontier Team also recovered a total collection of GH¢1,112,587.29.
The Nationwide Vehicle Taskforce also recovered a total collection of GH¢1.1 million (GH¢21,878,917.68).
The GRA, the buttress its point about not engaging in illegal stops and harassment of traders, also cited instances where their task forces had intercepted vehicles loaded with under-declared good or ‘mis-described’ goods.
For instance, on March 8, 2023, two trucks with registration numbers GB 517-22 and GR 7891-21 carrying 4X20FT containers, which were ‘mis-described’ as containing coal pressor spiral were impounded.
A total revenue of GH¢37,763.67 had been paid for all the four containers.
Upon re-examination by the Authority, it was uncovered that the declared coal pressor spiral was mackerel in tomato sauce.
A Re-assessment led to the realisation of a total evaded revenue of GH¢1,464,118.20.
In another instance, a 40-foot container carrying spare parts from Takoradi was intercepted from a hideout along the Assin Fosu stretch based on intelligence.
At the point of arrest, the importer had paid a total revenue of GH¢12,435.78.
Upon re-examination and re-assessment, a short collection of GH¢236,855.80 was realized. The GRA therefore appealed to the leadership of GUTA and TAGG to cooperate with the various task forces across the country and encourage their members to comply with the tax laws of the land.