GRA descends on tax stamp defaulters… stops distribution of beer, soft drinks, water, others

Officials of GRA removing some items on the sheaves at Achimota Mall Photo Seth Osabukle

Officials of GRA removing some items on the sheaves at Achimota Mall Photo Seth Osabukle

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has stopped the distribution for sale of products of the Accra Brewery Limited (ABL) and SBC Beverages Ghana Limited, for failing to affix tax stamps on them.

 

The ABL’s products include Club Beer, Stone Lager, Club Shandy, Voltic Mineral Water, among others while SBC are responsible for Pepsi, 7Up and Mirinda.

 

The directive follows an enforcement exercise at the offices of the companies in Accra yesterday by a team of GRA officials to ensure compliance of the tax stamp policy.

 

The exercise also took the team to the GIHOC Distilleries Company Limited and Achimota Retail Centre where 900 bottles of two-Litre Coca Cola drinks, 79 Special Ice bottled water, 14 one-litre Lucozade Energy drink, 12 bottles of Voltic water, 10 cans of Sprite drink, among others which were displayed on shelves for sale and were all confiscated for lack of a tax stamp.

 

Mr Seth Dwira, Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations, GRA, addressing the media said the Authority would continue to undertake enforcement and compliance inspections to ensure all businesses comply with the policy.

 

He stated that companies which persist in flouting the law would be penalised with detention of goods and imposition of fines.

 

Mr Dwira said the two companies, ABL and SBC, which were ordered not to distribute their products could however be permitted to do so if they engage the Commissioner-General of GRA for special arrangements as they await the arrival of their tax stamp affixing machines in the country.

 

Mr Kwabena Apau Anto, Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Excise Unit, cautioned businesses and companies against affixing fake stamps, saying that the GRA have modern equipment to detect stamps that were not provided by the Authority.

 

“As part of the enforcement exercise, we are also checking whether the stamps affixed on the products are authentic. We have the equipment and technology to detect fake ones from the original stamps we issued. I will urge the companies and businesses not to engage in any illegal act because sanctions will be administered in such cases as prescribed under the law,” he stated.

 

The inspections, he said would be extended to the various depots of businesses captured in the tax stamp policy to ensure compliance.

 

Mr Maxwell Kofi Jumah, Managing Director of GIHOC Distilleries Company Limited, one of the first companies to purchase the tax stamp affixing equipment, said the tax stamp policy was necessary to increase tax revenue for government and weed-out fake products from the market.

 

The Excise Tax Stamp Act 2013, (Act 873) which came into force in January this year at the ports while that of the point of sale started in March, faced stiff opposition as businesses complained of high cost of fixing machines which could add additional cost to their operations and in turn affect the ordinary consumer.

The Tax stamps aims at controlling the importation and local production of excisable goods for revenue purposes while checking illicit trading, smuggling and counterfeiting of excisable products and under-declaration of goods.

 

The digitally designed stamps with security features are expected to be affixed on specified excisable goods in Ghana whether locally manufactured or imported to show that the necessary taxes and duties had been paid on them.

 

Goods on which the excise stamp must be affixed unto includes tobacco products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages including spirits whether bottled, canned or packaged, bottled water and any other excisable product that may be prescribed by the Minister of Finance.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

 

 

 

 

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