Massive deals in pet food imports

Dr. Clement Apaak.THE Presidential Special Operations Unit (SOU) has uncovered a large scale tax evasion in the importation of products for pets, causing the State to lose millions of Ghana cedis.

Among others, the importers of pet foods and drugs use fake documents, and are in connivance with some port officials to evade the import duties.

Many importers are being investigated, while millions of cedis, are expected to be retrieved from the tax evaders for the State.

Investigations by the SOU reveal that the importers, quote wrong importation codes to evade both a 20 per cent import duty and 25 per cent VAT.

Dr. Clement Apaak, Spokesman for the SOU, who confirmed the outcome of the investigations to The Ghanaian Times yesterday, explained that the importers under-declared their goods at the ports.

He said the importers were surprisingly allowed to use the non-taxable goods classification code-2309909000 which was meant for animal feed imported for personal and non- commercial purposes.

Mr. Apaak said the importers should instead, be taxable with the code-2309901000, which was meant for animal food imported for commercial purposes, with which they would be required to pay the required taxes.

He said a verification of the goods clearance data which reviewed the goods clearance of about 50 importers, showed that almost all the importers were allowed to quote the wrong codes to cheat the system.

In addition, he said the products were not certified by the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Veterinary Services Department (VSD) since the goods were labelled as “personal effects” and, therefore, did not go through the two health units at the ports.

The products include foods, supplements, vaccines, flea and tick spray for pet dogs, cats, squirrels and birds.

Dr. Apaak said the investigation was part of a clamp down on the illegal activities of the importers in the booming pet industry.

As part of the clamp down, which is in collaboration with the Intelligence Unit of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the FDA and VSD, all importers found to have evaded the taxes would be directed to pay.

He said the defaulters risk the closure of their shops and subsequent prosecution if they failed to pay up.

At the moment, he said the SOU was computing the evaded taxes to hand over the case to the Police’s Criminal Investigations Department for appropriate action.

He gave the assurance that all port officials found to be involved in the tax evasion deals would be severely dealt with.

He said notices would be issued to the dealers to immediately pay up the evaded taxes or risk being arrested and closure of their shops.

By Edmund Mingle

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