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General News of Wednesday, 27 November 2002

Source: The Ghanaian Chronicle

Siaw paid all taxes after all

Contrary to the tax evasion charge that the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) slapped on the late Joshua Kwabena Siaw in confiscating his multi-million dollar Tata Brewery Company, it has now emerged that Siaw dutifully paid all special and sales taxes under the laws at that time.

Among a couple of authenticating documents fumbled upon by the Chronicle is one from the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) which was prepared and signed by a high-ranking official of the service on 9 May 1979. it indicated that Tata Brewery paid both special and sales taxes from 1976 till the time of the confiscation. The amount was ?9,594,213.58, a colossal amount at that time when the cedi virtually ran at par with the almighty dollar.

The factory, which was commissioned on 30 January 1973 by the late General I.K. Acheampong, was made to enjoy tax concession for three years from 1973 to 1975 and that had been indicated in CEPS documents.

Another document available to The Chronicle signed by an officer of the AFRC on 26 June 1979 stated that the late J.K. Siaw was invited by the AFRC, investigated and cleared from any wrongdoing on 20 August 1979.

It is therefore, surprising that the same AFRC government went ahead and seized the factory and almost all the property of the late Siaw, accusing him of tax evasion.

Concerning the three year tax concession given by the predecessor government, the Supreme Military Council I (SMC I) chaired by the late Acheampong, it was found out that the SMC II with the late Gen F.W.K. Akuffo, as the chairman, signed a decree to abolish the concession taken retrospective effect from January 1973 which made the factory indebted to the country of ?15,620,400.78 being tax concession enjoyed for three years.

A letter from the SMC II office dated 26 January 1979, signed by one J.T.K. Aggrey stated that the SMC II government had acknowledged receipt of the factory?s two letters forwarding two cheques totalling ?5m as part payment of the debt incurred by the company as a result of the decree.

The letter further assured the Tata Brewery management that their petition to the then government to allow them to pay the difference of ?10,620,400.78 at a later date receiving the needed attention.

A number of concerned citizens who believe in justice and fairplay interviewed by the Chronicle urged the NPP government as a matter of urgency to go into the confiscating of assets by previous governments from hard-working and law-abiding Ghanaians and rectify the anomaly once and for all.

They conceded that the present government has done well to establish the NRC and there are other bodies such as CHRAJ and De-Confiscation Assets Committee, but the government, especially the President?s personal intervention in some of the matters would be very much appreciated by all peace-loving Ghanaians.