CP Before Judgement Debts Commission

Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, Sole CommissionerConstruction Pioneers (CP), a foreign firm which undertook some of the country’s major road projects between 1991 and 1996, said it was granted tax exemption by the government at the time, and did not therefore pay tax.

But the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has insisted that the company must fulfil its tax obligation since there was no documentary evidence of parliamentary approval to that effect.

Mr Kaleo Rogation Adams, Deputy Commissioner in-charge of the Large Tax Office (LTO) of the Ghana Revenue Authority, told the Judgement Debts Commission yesterday that there was no evidence of payment by CP on the files.

He further said that even if CP had paid its tax, GRA would still find it difficult to retrieve the file from the archives considering the time lapse (i.e after 13 years) coupled with the cessation of the company’s operations in Ghana.

“My Lord, after 13 years, all our files become dormant and are taken to the archives for safe keeping; we do not destroy them”, he explained.

According to Mr Adams, an audit conducted by the outfit (LTO) in 2001 came out with a tax liability and that was communicated to the construction firm but it (CP) remained adamant in paying the tax based on the purported exemption.

When Mr Kofi Dometi Sokpor, lead counsel for the Commission, asked him whether he had sighted a document confirming the tax exemption, he answered that the office had correspondence pertaining to the agreement but it bore no parliamentary approval and pledged to provide the commission with copies of the correspondence.

The Deputy Commissioner said that no matter how long a person evaded tax, GRA would not relent in its efforts to recover the money.

Mr Justice Yaw Apau, Sole Commissioner, assured the GRA of the Commission’s readiness to provide the names of companies which had benefited from judgement debts and also collected compensation but failed to pay their withholding tax, so that the Authority would go after them.

He pointed out that some companies, after enjoying the tax holiday, would unscrupulously fold up their operations only to emerge later under a new company name, to enjoy another tax holiday to the detriment of national development.

“This negative practice must be vigorously checked”, he stressed.

At the time of winding up its operations in this country, CP owed Ghana Government 44 million Deutsche marks but it did not pay it after collecting a colossal amount of money as compensation from the state at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, France. Sitting continues today. By Castro Zangina-Tong

 

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