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GRA confiscates 544 imported drinks, others

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Some officers of the GRA checking tax stamps on some products at Okaishie in Accra
Some officers of the GRA checking tax stamps on some products at Okaishie in Accra

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has confiscated 544 packets of imported drinks and 41 packets of locally made soft drinks from retail shops in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra last Tuesday as part of measures to enforce the excise tax stamp policy.

The 544 packs of one-litre Lucozade Energy drink were seized from stores at the Korle Woko in CBD in Accra as they did not have tax stamps on them, while the 41 cartons of special ice grapes drink were also picked up from some shops at Okaishie.

Some of the inspected stores urged the GRA to engage the distributors and traders on compliance status before the enforcement exercise.

A team of officers from the Excise Unit of the GRA is undertaking a two-week tax stamp monitoring and enforcement exercise to promote compliance of the tax stamp policy.

It also seized packets of cigarettes and some other carbonated products, which had been displayed for sale by retailers  but did not have the tax stamps on them.

Grace period

Interacting with journalists after the exercise, the Head of the Excise Unit, Chief Revenue Officer, Mr Kwabena Antoh Apau, said the seized products would be forfeited to the state if the owners failed to contact the GRA within 30 days.

After the grace period, Mr Apau, who is also the Project Manager of the Tax Stamp Exercise, said the offenders would be made to face the accompanying penalties.

The resumption of the monitoring and enforcement programme, he said, was to assess the level of compliance since the introduction of the tax stamp policy.

Although he admitted there had been an increase in compliance to the tax stamp policy by importers, manufacturers and some traders, he observed that some persons were still flouting the law.

“Some traders display products for sale without the tax stamp.

 Some intentionally make available for sale products without the tax stamps in order to avoid paying the required tax,” he said.

The monitoring and enforcement team, Mr Apau said, would first enquire of the entry point of imported products without the stamp and engage local manufacturers on why their products were not affixed with the tax stamp.

Tax stamp

He cautioned traders and consumers from purchasing products without the tax stamp, explaining that “if the product has a tax stamp, then it means it is genuine and poses no danger to your health and also gives to the state the needed revenue.”

The Tax Stamp Policy, which emanates from the Excise Stamp Act, 2013 (Act 873), was implemented by the government in October last year.

 The tax stamps are small stickers with security features supplied by the government to some manufacturers and importers to be affixed to their products before they are released on the market.

 The presence of the tax stamps on a product provides enough guarantee of product authenticity.

VAT

In addition to monitoring and enforcing the tax stamp policy, the team also used the exercise to check whether or not the appropriate VAT invoices were being issued by the traders.

Mr Apau said any trader suspected to be engaged in improper conduct against the issuance of VAT invoices would be audited and dealt with in accordance with the law.

Offence

One of the traders who was found selling carbonated drinks without the tax stamp, Mercy Osuru, said even though she had heard reports about the tax stamp enforcement exercise by the GRA, “I did not know it was an offence to sell drinks with no stamps on them on an open market like this.

 I thought it was only for the big wholesale shops and malls.”
 
She called for the intensification of public education on the tax stamp policy, especially among retailers and hawkers.