The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Tema Sector Command, has increased its efforts to prevent the under-declaration and under-invoicing of imported goods.
The Customs division is warning importers, especially paper product importers, that it will go hard on anyone who attempts to short-change the state by deliberately under-declaring goods at the ports.
This came to light at a press briefing in Tema after Customs officials discovered a container of finished products such as photo-copy papers (A-4 sheets), which was declared by the clearing agent as stationery.
Head of Intelligence at the Ghana Revenue Authority, Assistant Commissioner Wisdom Xetor, lamented the manipulation of actual duty payment by some paper importers and clearing agents at the port.
He disclosed that investigations show that most paper importers are under-invoicing, giving wrong descriptions and under-valuing their imports in a bid to evade taxes.
Mr. Xetor said the GRA has introduced a new strategy of tracking some of these importers: “We just want to send a clear message to the importing public that they are under our radar; we are monitoring them so they should just do the right thing”.
Mr. Xetor therefore cautioned the importers that going forward culprits will be sanctioned severely, including having to pay a 300 percent penalty; and in cases where contents are banned goods, they will be seized.
Chief Revenue Officer, Public Education, Media Relations and Review, Dzinunya Mawuli, on his part said this exercise was previously carried out underground, but will now be done publicly as a way of warning others to desist from such acts.
“Today we were supposed to open one of the containers and re-examine the items in it, but unfortunately the importer and clearing agent are not available. The clearing agent entered 68 items, but our scan image is telling us that it is one item. They described it as stationery, but it is not stationery when we look at the scan image,” Ms. Mawuli said.
She noted that the container will be opened by next Wednesday, in order for them to carry out the necessary examination so they can establish its true content.