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Business News of Saturday, 2 September 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Customised stamps to be affixed on goods from January 2018 - Ofori-Atta

With effect from January, 2018, local manufacturers and importers of specified products will be required to affix customised stamps bearing security features on their wares before they are allowed on the local market.

The requirement comes on the heels of the launch of the Excise Tax Stamp Policy by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, in Accra yesterday.The affected products are cigarettes and other tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, including spirits, whether bottled, canned, in kegs or packaged in any other form for sale.

Also affected by the initiative are non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, either bottled, canned or packaged in any other form, as well as bottled water and any other excisable products prescribed by the Minister of Finance.

The policy will take effect from January 1, 2018, by which time local manufacturers and importers of the excisable products are expected to have done all structural and operational adjustments to embrace the new paradigm.

By the initiative, local manufacturers and importers of the products in question are required to register with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to enable them to obtain the stamps.

Local manufactures would be required to affix the stamps on their products at the factory level to authenticate each unit before they hit the market.

Importers, on the other hand, are expected to either have the stamps affixed on their wares by their foreign manufacturers, on the products at the point of entry in a specified facility or have them affixed on the products at the premises approved by the GRA.

The policy draws its legal backing from the Excise Tax Stamp Act, 2013, Act 873, which is meant to plug loopholes in revenue generation, check under-declaration of goods and control illicit trading, smuggling and counterfeiting of excisable goods.

Concerns

Six stakeholder associations, however, are up in arms against the launch of the initiative, saying there should have been broader stakeholder engagement to create awareness of the policy.

The associations are the National Association of Sachet and Packaged Water Producers (NASPAP), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG), Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FBAG), Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA) and the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), as well as the Wholesalers and Shop Owners Association of Ghana.

A release dated August 30 and signed by the representatives of the associations said the Ministry of Finance had failed to respond to a request they made for a meeting with the ministry to discuss issues arising out of the Excise Tax Stamp policy.

Subsidy

At the launch, Mr Ofori-Atta announced the government’s decision to supply the stamps free of charge to industry players for the first six months when the policy starts in January next year.

“The Excise Tax Stamp Act requires businesses to bear the cost of the stamps but gives freedom to the government to subsidise this cost.

“I am glad to confirm that between January 1 and June 30, 2018, the government will bear the entire cost of the stamps supplied to businesses, and from July to the end of 2018, we will still bear half of the cost of the stamps,” he said.

Mr Ofori-Atta added that the government would engage local manufacturers and traders to ensure that all outstanding issues were resolved before the implementation of the policy.

“Once the tax stamp policy starts fully, products that are required to carry the stamps but do not do so will be removed from the market and the appropriate sanctions imposed on the offenders,” he stressed.

Mr Ofori-Atta urged the business community not to see the tax stamp policy as a new form of tax but rather a move to strengthen revenue mobilisation for socio-economic development.

He said the tax stamp regime would further help to weed out counterfeiting of products, smuggling and other nefarious activities that deprived the government and businesses which engaged in genuine trading activities the revenue they deserved.

Stakeholders urged

For his part, the Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti said the GRA would intensify public education on the role of all stakeholders in the new paradigm as a measure to ensure compliance by the traders and manufacturers.

“It is my expectation that between now and the effective date of implementation, manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers will clear the stocks of excisable goods without stamps to ensure a smooth transition.

I will like to put emphasis on the fact that at the end of the transition period, a person who flouts the law will be sanctioned appropriately. These sanctions include a fine not exceeding 300 per cent of the duties and taxes involved or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or both,” he said.

Present at the launch were the Minister of Planning, Professor George Yaw Gyan, the United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson, as well as a representative of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Dr Nina Korte.

In separate statements, Mr Jackson and Dr Korte commended the government for the initiative and stressed the need for stringent enforcement of the law.