The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service, has arrested some importers of assorted carbonated beverages and liquor for failing to affix excise tax stamps on the product and attempting to evade tax.
During a special operation which included monitoring and trailing the movement of the importers, two 40-footer container trucks with Nigeria vehicle registration number plates and a 20-footer container truck with Ghanaian registration number plate which were carrying the items were impounded.
Officers from the Excise Unit of the GRA, who led the exercise, discovered the items which also included vodka, Heineken, Lucozade, cigarettes, Coca-Cola, bottled water and impounded the vehicles at Avenor and Accra Central.
Also, the authority has also seized hundreds of cartons of assorted carbonated beverages, including 780 packs of malt Guinness drinks, 12,000 cartons of wheatamix malt drink, 210 packs of soda beverages, and hard liquors imported into the country and being sold on the open market without the excise duty stamps.
Although the examination team of the GRA’s Excise Unit was yet to put together the total value of the items, the authority estimates the market value of the drinks would amount to thousands of Ghana cedis and would have resulted in a significant loss of revenue to the state.
Head of the Excise Unit at the GRA, Kwabena Apau, briefing journalists last Saturday after the team had discovered some of the items in an open market where the products were being sold without the required excise stamp, said they would be taken to the authority’s warehouses while investigations continued.
“We expect that these products would have been fixed with stamps either manufactured locally or imported but that is not the case as we have noticed that most people are flouting the law.
“We found the products in the open market without tax stamps,” he said.
He said according to the law, the excise tax stamp had to be fixed on the products at source either at the manufacturing point or at the point of entry for imported products.
Mr Apau stated that it was also discovered that some of the products had tax stamps on them but when the GRA team used their devices to scan the codes, it was found that those stamps had not been issued by the authority.
“That is an offence and we have started investigating to find out the sources of those stamps,” he said.
In some other cases, he said when the GRA tax stamp authentication App was used, it was found that the stamps on some products were stamps which had been given to an importer but they had been fixed on the products of another importer “ how that happened we can’t tell but we have arrested the importer and we will get to the bottom of this issue.”
Also, he said the team had also discovered that tax stamps, which were issued to some local manufactures, had been affixed on imported products “and that means the importers of the foreign products did not pay taxes on them.
Enforcing the law
Mr Apau said he exercise was to further enhance the GRA’s resolve to enforce the country’s revenue laws to collect the taxes that had to be paid.
He urged all patrons of both locally manufactured and improved goods to download the GRA tax stamp authentication App to enable them to scan the stamps on products they patronised.
That, he said, would “help them know if the products were genuine and also ensure that the taxes they were paying would contribute to the development of the nation.”
The Chief Revenue Officer in charge of Compliance at the Excise Unit of the GRA, Nelson Bright Atsu, said the Act on the enforcement of the excise tax stamp had been in force since March 1, 2018 to provide for the affixing of Excise Stamps on specified excisable products to enhance accountability on those products.
“It is a law and we expect those who trade in these products to comply.
Failure to comply will mean the heavy arms of the law will fall on you and you will pay for the duties, the penalties for evading the taxes and you will face prosecution.”