General News of Tuesday, 11 April 2017
It is on record that Ghana loses more than $8.3 million in revenue at the ports through fraudulent activities of some importers who pocket the money into their private pockets with the connivance of officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
The figure amounts to over $45 million every six months and $100 million every year. The lost revenue ends up in private pockets.
Unfortunately, this continuous monthly act of fraud of huge amounts is ongoing with the full knowledge and awareness of top government officials including the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, GRA Boss Kofi Nti, the Commissioner of CEPS and the Office of the President itself.
Every month the Office of the President is furnished with official documents of which importers and GRA agents connive to pocket those amounts, the dates the acts were done and how exactly they were done as well as how the monies can be retrieved but so far, no action has been taken by government to either stop the fraud or even ask the culprits to return the amounts.
One of such documents sighted by DAYBREAK showed that the revenue leakages happen as a result of manipulation of the Bill of Lading by the importers in order to under-declare their goods and pay far less than the amounts they should pay to government.
There are also cases of falsifying of documents by declarants and administrative lapses on the part of some officials of the Customs Divisions of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Even though there are data and reports at the disposal of the GRA boss, Kofi Nti and the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta, on how the perpetrators are milking the nation, they have turned a blind eye on the situation for very curious reasons.
This paper’s findings showed that some of the companies involved in this fraud belong to well known businessmen who sponsor activities of political parties.
Further checks also revealed that the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong has come under heavy pressure from the Office of the President simply because he had asked for an investigation into the ongoing fraud which is costing the state huge sums of money.
The importers give wrong descriptions to their imported containers and even though there are scanners to verify the contents of these containers, some port officials and security personnel are said to collect bribes and allow the goods to be cleared by the importer.
They describe high valued items as low valued goods and pay little or nothing at all.
In one instance, a brand new Range Rover was imported to Ghana and the entire duty paid on it was just about GH¢2,000.
In another instance just an amount of GH¢500 was paid as import duty on a brand new saloon car imported.
Sometimes television sets, fridges and textiles, which are high valued items, are described by some importers as house hold goods or stationery in order to pay less.
For instance, a document from GRA seen by DAYBREAK shows that one importer described his goods as fish instead of poultry so as to pay lower duty.
This wrong declaration of the imported item resulted in the government losing GH¢400,379.00 on just one product imported.
In another instance, a different importer also underdeclared a Mackerel in Tomato sauce royal que. Instead of declaring 10,950 cartons, the importer declared 620 of the same commodity on the Bill of Entry when applying for Customs Classification And Valuation Report (CCVR).
The action of the importer led to estimated revenue loss of $105,366.
DAYBREAK will soon release names of the importers and companies which are making the country lose so much revenue at the ports.