Some 15 senior officers of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), who were recently arrested, are allegedly responsible for the loss of GH¢1.2 billion in revenue, according to a hint dropped by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
According to him, the revelation emanated from the efforts his government is making to block revenue leakages at the country’s ports.
He said, “That money was going, not into the government’s coffers, but into private pockets. We have importers who evade duty because they split the duty with Customs officials. It cannot continue like that in Ghana.”
The president made this known last Wednesday when he addressed Ghanaians living in Sierra Leone at a meeting as part of his one-day working visit to that country.
He, therefore, urged Ghanaians to help him in the fight against corruption, “so that we can put that Ghana behind us, and get a new deal for our country.”
It would be recalled that the senior officers of the Customs Division of the GRA were interdicted for allegedly causing financial loss to the state through tax evasion.
The interdiction of the officers, comprising four females and 11 males, followed their purported involvement in conniving and permitting certain companies to evade duties and taxies.
Monthly salaries of some officers have also been cut by one-third and have been barred from entering the premises of the GRA until otherwise directed.
They have been accused of “conniving and permitting” some companies to evade duties and taxes, causing the GRA revenue losses.
A letter dated May 17, 2017 and signed by Fred Charles Anson, the acting Commissioner in-charge of Support Service at the GRA, claimed that revenue of GH¢8,575,796.86 was lost as a result of officers’ negligence.
“Report received indicates that you have been involved in conniving and permitting certain companies to evade duties and taxes due the State. As a result of your act of negligence, the Authority has incurred a total liability of GH¢17,151,593.72 being revenue loss of GH¢8,575,796.86,” a copy of the letter that was sighted indicates.
All the 15 Customs officers have been ordered to hand over their duties and the Authority’s properties in their custody, including their official identity cards, to their sector commanders.
“The Authority has taken serious view of your conduct and has decided to interdict you to pave way for thorough investigations to be carried out into the matter. Consequently, you have been interdicted with effect from May 18, 2017,” the letter stated.
Confirming the interdiction further, the Commissioner-General of GRA, Kofi Nti, told journalists in Tema on Thursday that the move was to restore discipline in the service.
According to him, “Looking at issues of negatives in the Customs area, we’re working seriously to make sure that the compliance officers do the right things and then items that go through the GCNET system are properly priced so that we have the values that we need to have and there is no distortion in that area.
“In line with that, we need to infuse discipline in the system and as part of the discipline in the system, some staff are on interdiction to send signal that we are serious about getting sanity in the system.”
He, however, disclosed that the Customs Division had recorded the highest collection ever as at May 15, 2017, giving signal of change of trend.
From Vincent Kubi, Tema