CTN to check dubious deals, targeting big institutions not GUTA

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
Mr Isaac Crentsil — Commissioner of Customs, GRA
Mr Isaac Crentsil — Commissioner of Customs, GRA

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has broken its silence over the cargo tracking note (CTN) issue, explaining that the system is aimed at exposing what it described as big institutional importers and state agencies that normally use dubious means and fictitious documents to fleece the state of import duties and revenue.

It has, therefore, allayed the fears of members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), saying that the proposed implementation of CTN is not meant to put a searchlight on their transactions to enable them to pay more duties.

The Commissioner of Customers at GRA, Mr Isaac Crentsil, said in an interview that the insignificant nature of GUTA members in the share of imports into the country meant that they were not the main brains behind trade malpractices in the country.

The biggest culprits, he said, were institutional importers and state agencies, which account for about 90 per cent of imports into the country.

Mr Crentsil told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that data available to the authority showed that this category of traders mostly under invoice and value, mis-describe or over invoice and value their imports to be able to pay less duties or make up for inflated government contracts.

“Some also misquote the currency of their imports to escape paying the right duties,” he said.

Using data from the pilot phase of the CTN that was generated in July, this year, Mr Crentsil said the project uncovered various degrees of trade malpractices that required serious attention to help save the country revenue and restore sanity in commercial trade.

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Data as evidence

Giving a breakdown, Mr Crentsil said of the 3,165 CTN numbers issued, 887 bill of ladings were matched with customs data.

“Out of the 887, 672 records matched with currencies; it means that 215 did not match the currencies.

“What this means is that people may buy in Euro but come and declare it as dollar so that they can take advantage of differences in currency,” he explained.

He added that of the 672 records that matched with currencies, the volumes of 458 records matched, indicating genuine invoices. That, he said, meant that the Customs Division of GRA could not authenticate the volumes of the remaining 128 records.

“About 19 could not be validated but 86 records were under declaration. Another 260 records were found to have been under invoiced and another 46 records were found to have been over invoiced,” he said.

He explained that while the under invoicing were mostly done by the ‘big time’ institutional importers to avoid paying the right duties, the over invoicing are done by state agencies to correspond with inflated prices given to the government as prices for imports.

“With the under invoicing, the biggest of them are these big companies. As for these GUTA people, they are small and that is why they are not the target of the CTN.

“The target is the big-time importers,” he said.

He, however, declined to name specific institutions found to have outwitted the system but said the division was working on taking the necessary actions against the culprits. —GB