The management of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has stated that it has taken steps to ensure that all allegations of impropriety hanging on any of its staff are promptly and decisively investigated.
The authority added that all cases of tax evasion or other acts that were contrary to the laws governing the authority would be dealt with.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Dr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, and released last Sunday, the GRA said it had followed media discussions and reactions following the release of the report of the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into alleged commission of corruption and corruption-related offences involving Labianca Group of Companies and the Customs Division of the GRA.
“The authority would like to state for the record that it accords the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) the respect and the dignity that the OSP carries.
“GRA continually looks for every opportunity to improve on revenue, as well as block any leakage,” it said.
To that end, the statement added, the GRA was studying the outcomes of the report in detail, and would not hesitate to ensure that per its mandate all processes and procedures that were identified to lead to loss of revenue or had the potential to lead to loss of revenue were blocked.
The authority also dissociated itself from comments made by the Commissioner of the Customs Division, Col Kwadwo Damoah(retd) at the Customs
Management Retreat on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, on the outcomes of the investigation.
The GRA said the comments were made in Col Damoah’s personal capacity, and that they did not convey the opinion of the board and management of the GRA.
It said prior to the release of the OSP’s report, it had taken steps to streamline and improve on the processes of accurately determining values of imported items and products.
Following the inauguration of the new GRA Board of Directors in August 2021, the authority took steps to deal with practices or procedures that had the potential of reducing or not giving maximum value to transactions at importation.
In one such measure, it gave a directive in December 2021 that with immediate effect no discounts or rebates should be given on items or products at importation, and to cancel all existing approved discounts.
The GRA, the statement said, was also ensuring that all unreasonable exercise of discretionary power which would result in the loss of revenue would be prevented.
The OSP recovered GH¢1.074 million from Labianca, owned by Ms Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, who is an elected member of the Council of State representing the Western Region.
The amount represented a shortfall in import duties the frozen foods company paid to the state.
In an investigative report by the OSP, Ms Asomah-Hinneh was accused of influence-peddling by allegedly using her position as a member of the Council of State and member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to get a favourable decision from the Customs Division for her company, Labianca.
The OSP faulted a Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Operations, Joseph Adu Kyei, for issuing what it described as unlawful customs advance ruling, which reduced the benchmark values of the frozen foods imported by Labianca Limited, thereby reducing the company's tax obligations to the state.
But addressing senior officers of the Customs Division at a retreat in Kumasi last Wednesday, Col Damoah said the Special Prosecutor had attempted to indict him and the Deputy Commissioner of Operations of the GRA in that investigative report.
He said the report about Labianca Company Limited was a calculated attempt to dent his reputation, and would fail.
Col Damoah also asserted that the Special Prosecutor's investigation was "hollow and actuated by malice".