Trouble is brewing across the top level of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) as well as the lowest levels over reports filtering in that, some personnel of the Authority, notably personnel of the Customs Division, allegedly led by their Commissioner, Col (RTD) Damoah, have vowed to resist the implementation of a new import duty regime in the Eastern Corridor of the country, particularly the Ho Collection Point.
Signals picked up by your authoritative The New Independent paint a gloomy picture of a sharp division across the rank and file of the Authority, with majority accusing the personnel of the Customs Division of engaging in a development that is illegal and inimical to the revenue mobilization agenda of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Among others, some Customs personnel, particularly those stationed in the Eastern corridor, that is the Ho Collection Point, (Volta Region) and its environs, are said to be resisting the new directive sanctioned by the Authority, following recommendations by a fact-finding committee, which indicated that, the implementation of the new import duty regime in that part of the country was dwindling the revenue base of the country and instead, enriching individuals.
The committee, according to our credible inside sources, recommended to the Commissioner-General and the top echelon of the Authority that, such an obnoxious import duty regime, was not in the best interest of Ghana and should therefore be scrapped and a more favourable one introduced in its stead.
The committee, The New Independent has learnt, recommended that, effective May 31, 2021, the old regime must give way to the new import duty regime in the Eastern corridor of the country.
It will be recalled that, the top echelon of the GRA, including its Commissioners, in 2019, through the Customs Division of the Authority, introduced a tax and import duty policy known as the Stowage Factor, that was intended to prevent and also curb smuggling, bribery and corruption among staff of the Authority across the country, particularly, in the Eastern corridor and notably, in the Volta Region of the Republic of Ghana.
Among others, the information disclosed that, the policy, which was introduced and which until May 31, 2021 was implemented since 2019, allowed all trucks, cargos and all manner of loading vehicles, which are single-axle to pay an amount ranging between GH 17,000.00 and GH 20,000.00 while double-axle cargo vehicles are made to pay an amount between GHC 30,000 and GHC 35,000.
Other vehicles covered under the policy were, KIA Rhino Truck, which are to pay between GHC 15,000.00 and 17,000.00, while KIA Trade Mini Truck are to pay between GHC 8,000.00 and GHC 12,000.00 Also, Hyundai Mighty cars were to pay between GHC 8,000.00 and GHC 12,000.00 while Mercedes Benz 508 cars were to pay between GHC 7,000.00 and GHC 10,000.00 with Mercedes Benz 207 having to pay between GHC 5,000.00 and GHC 7,000.00.
Our investigations also uncovered that, Hyundai H100 cars were to pay between GHC 1,500.00 and GHC 3,000.00 As a result of the implementation of the policy, these cargo vehicles, no matter their sizes and irrespective of their contents, were allowed to pay the amount quoted above while import duty receipts were issued to cover all items in that cargo or vehicle as duties having been duly paid for them all.
The implementation of what some in the service as well as tax consultants have described as obnoxious, created tension among personnel of the Authority with allegations that, those implementing the policy were enriching themselves unjustifiable at the expense of the state as a result of the implementation of the Eastern Corridor’s novel import duty regime, the Stowage Factor.
Angry GRA staff were of the view that, the policy, in its current form, was inimical to the increase in revenue through import duties, from that part of the country, for the nation’s development. It is in this regard and to reverse the trend that, the management of GRA set up a committee early this year to investigate and to make recommendations to management as to whether the Eastern Corridor import duty regime should continue or be scrapped.
The committee, The New Independent has learnt, recommended the scrapping and the abrogation of that tax regime and a more efficient one introduced in its place, which recommendation has been carried out by the GRA management but not without issues, name-calling and witch-hunting, amidst its political twists.
Information available to this paper has revealed that, prior to December 2020 general elections, some traders, who used the eastern corridor route, took undue advantage of the import duty policy at the time, to swindle the state by allegedly conniving with officials of the Customs division to pocket and to share monies, which should have accrued to the state as import duty payments.In one of such deals allegedly involving traders and Customs personnel, the state lost an amount of GHC 140,000 after allowing the trader to pay an amount of only GHC 38,000 for all the contents in that cargo.
Our information is that, only yesterday, a cargo containing assorted mobile phones was allowed to pass through all Customs checkpoints and was on its way to Kumasi when it was accosted by a task force and an assessment made of its contents.Our information is that, the assessment revealed that, the country had been shortchanged to the tune of GHC 1 million, which the country could have raked from that single import to support its development agenda.
According to our credible informants in the Volta Region, soon after the cargo was impounded, some politicians started calling the top brass of the Authority accusing them of harassing a particular political party supporters and requesting that, the cargo be released as soon as possible or the GRA management members risked being dismissed from their posts.
This development and other acts going on within the Authority at all levels, are creating tension with the majority throwing their weight behind the management not to yield to anybody’s threats, because the Authority has a target to meet as a revenue generation institution.
The angry GRA staff said, “the Stowage Factor import duty policy was against the Customs laws on valuation and classification, which call on officers to calculate duties based on the type of goods imported and not the size of the car carrying the goods.” They also said, “it is as a result of this that, the fact-finding committee recommended that, the Stowage Factor” policy be stopped but officers stopped in the Ho corridor and rather collect duties based on the type of vehicles.
According to the angry GRA officers, the Stowage Factor policy has resulted in the smuggling in of contraband and other prohibited goods into the country, because the vehicles plying the areas were not actually inspected physically to know what goods they were carrying, and therefore commended the committee for its bold step in recommending its abrogation.
Attempts to contact Col (RTD) Damoah to comment on the allegations leveled against him and his personnel proved futile as his phone was mostly off even as at the time of going to press last night.
The New Independent will continue in its efforts to contact them to hear their side of the story and to bring it to our readers in our next edition. Stay tuned!