Traders in Ghana have expressed their concerns over the recent surge in prices of goods and services, attributing the price hikes to alleged pressures from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) during product imports and sales.
President of the Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG), discussing the matter on Neat FM, shed light on this issue, venting out his frustration on leaders in the Authority who are allegedly responsible for the situation.
Amoateng lamented, “We are sitting on money but we are hungry. There is money in this country, but because of some leaders who are asleep at their job and a government that fails to address this, we find ourselves in this situation. We cannot openly criticise these leaders because they will avoid meeting with us.”
Ghanaian traders, particularly importers, have been grappling with what they perceive as a contradictory stance by customs officials. “These commissioners are the same people who come to us, urging us to import more goods to help them meet their revenue targets. However, once they leave our premises, they treat importation as if it were a criminal activity,” noted Amoateng.
Amoateng specifically singled out Rev. Dr. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, the current commissioner, for what he alleges is an intentional effort to make customs and the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) excessively burdensome for traders. “It is the commissioner who has made it a point to have customs and the DTRD intimidate, harass, and extort money from traders, leading to the inflation of prices,” he asserted.
The President of TAGG has reported this issue to the highest authority in the country, expressing hope that the President would take steps to address the problem. “We believe that the President will take action to rectify this situation and hold those who feel untouchable accountable. There are dedicated officers in the customs office who have worked tirelessly for the good of the nation, and their efforts should not be overshadowed by these issues,” he emphasised.
Amoateng further criticised the GRA officers for closely monitoring traders at their market stalls. “If premix fuel can be digitalised, then the regulation of our tax obligations and fulfilments can also be streamlined. Micro-assessing our every move is an outdated practice,” he argued.
He issued a stern warning to the GRA officials, stating, “By the end of September, if GRA officials continue to occupy traders’ shops, we will close those shops and remove the officers. These archaic practices must cease, or we will take action. Traders who tolerate such behaviour or stay at home for three months will suffer financially.”
Responding to inquiries about whether this move was to encourage traders to file tax returns, Amoateng firmly denied it, asserting that the GRA officials were attempting to intimidate traders.
The repercussions of such actions, according to him, have however gravely affected traders. He gave an example of how one trader, who had customers from Burkina Faso visiting to make a purchase, experienced a significant setback when GRA officials unexpectedly entered the premises during the transaction, causing the prospective buyers to leave.
He appealed to the government and the public to understand their plight and support them in their quest for fair treatment and justice. He said that they are not against paying taxes but they want a conducive environment for doing business. He said that they are contributing to the development of the nation and should not be seen as enemies.
Watch his interview below.