Special Prosecutor digs deeper into Customs’ application of benchmark values
The Office of Special Prosecutor has begun what it terms as “a wider investigation into the issuance of customs advance rulings and markdowns of benchmark values between July 2017 and December 2021”, by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.
The OSP’s investigation follows its discovery of potential abuse of the system which resulted in the refund of more than GH¢1m by Labianca Company Limited to government chest. The OSP had in its report on the Labianca controversy, called for a thorough probe of the application of advance ruling and discount of benchmark values.
Government already discounts import values by 50 per cent courtesy an Act of Parliament, so the suspicion of a further discount of the 50 per cent depreciated values is what has caught the attention of the OSP, which argues that Ghana Revenue Authority officials do no wrong if they were issuing benchmark values as prescribed by the law.
“The further discount is where the problem is”, a source at the OSP told Graphic Online.
A statement issued on Monday, August 15, 2022 by the OSP announcing the start of the investigation into the issue, said some specific documentations namely “particulars of all applications for customs advance ruling, applications for markdown of benchmark values, applications for private rulings and class rulings pertaining to the application of customs law and the decision on each of the applications within the indicated period”, as well as “an Integrity Plan designed with the aim of preventing the corruption of the exercise of discretion by officials of the Customs Division, especially in respect of the rendering of rulings, to assure the effective operation of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) and the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915)”, have been demanded from the Commissioner of the Customs Division and the Commissioner-General of Ghana Revenue Authority respectively.
The Commissioner of the Customs Division has up to September 30, 2022, to submit the required details to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, while the Commissioner-General of Ghana Revenue Authority has December 31, 2022 to do same.