It has emerged that, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), could do better, but for certain schemes put in place by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, which is enabling financiers of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to get away with heavy revenue.
Customs and importers, have separately told The Herald that, but for some of these schemes, which put money in the pockets of the party financiers, as well as the party; GRA, would double its revenue target each year.
They mentioned two systems; Custom Advance Ruling System and the Green Tag, which are being exploited by the Ministry of Finance at the behest of the Minister of Finance, to deny the state the needed cash.
It has become a clever strategy, to dodge the paperless system recently rolled out at the port to ensure that the right taxes are declared and paid by importers.
President Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday visited the Tema Habour, as part of his 3-day tour of the Greater Accra Region, saying his vision of growth and development for the country, will be realized only through the efficiency of the GRA.
According to him, his aim of having a Ghana independent of foreign aid, will be possible if the Revenue Authority, especially at the country’s ports, work diligently to collect the needed taxes.
While, the Green Tag system, strictly forbids customs officers from inspecting containers to know their contents for tax and duties assessment and collecting, the Customs Advance Ruling on Valuation backed by Section 12 of Customs Act- Act 891 of 2015, allows less tax to be paid by an importer upon the inspection of the values the imported goods were supplied to the importer.
While, no tax is paid by an importer using the the Green Tag system, less tax and duties are paid on Customs Advance Ruling on Valuation.
In both systems, the state loses money. The Green Tag according to customs officers, is being abused severely under the present government.
Most importers, claim they have orders from the Finance Ministry to use the Green Tag to clear their goods. Hence end up paying nothing to the state.
One such beneficiaries of the scheme is White Stone Foods Company Limited; a major importer of frozen foods in the country, owned by a known financier of the ruling NPP, a council of State member, who has also been placed on the Ghana Ports and Habour Authority (GPHA) board, Eunice Jacqueline Buah.
Since the inception of Akufo-Addo government, White Stone Foods Company Limited, has been benefiting from the Customs Advance Ruling on Valuation to the displeasure of other importers.
Customs insiders told The Herald that, any attempt to change the situation, draws the bile from the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
Customs was recently petitioned by the helpless importers’ association, but it looks as though, nothing will change as the Finance Minister, is himself supervising the differential scheme being enjoyed by the woman, who has an unfettered access to the Presidency; The Flagstaff House, making both the GRA and Customs led by; Emmanuel Kofi Nti and Isaac Crentsil, respectively helpless.
Insiders told The Herald that, both gentlemen, are afraid to speak out or else they are sacked.
During his visit to the Tema Habour on Wednesday the President declared, “the GRA is a central part of whether or not we are going to succeed as a nation. When we speak about wanting to build a Ghana Beyond Aid, what we are saying is that we should become like all the progressive countries in the world, a country that depends on its own resources to buttress its own development, and not a country going around cap in hand begging for this or that.”
He said Ghana must be a “country of dignity and pride, that is able to finance its own development. And if we are going to be able to do that, you are at the cutting edge. If you succeed, Ghana succeeds. If you fail, we will fail.”
In his interaction with the officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Akufo-Addo said “the work my government is doing depends so much on you. If you are able to meet our revenue targets, it will then mean that we would be able to finance the expenditures we would need in our social sectors, for our education, for our housing, for our health, amongst others”.
He further encouraged the GRA officials to dedicate themselves to the service of the country by working diligently.
“…the time has come for us not to ‘chop’ Ghana small, but to make Ghana great. If that is where all of us are, we are going to build a Ghana that is going to be the wonder of this world. The world will then see that there are Africans capable of doing it….My part is to try to help define and design the policy. But you are the people responsible for executing it. If the execution is solid, Ghana is solid,” he said.
He had said his aim of having a Ghana independent of foreign aid will be possible if the Ghana Revenue Authority, especially at the country’s ports, work diligently to collect the needed taxes. But it appears he has to look within his cabinet if he is sincere about this claim.
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