It is bad enough that Ghana imports between US$300million and US$500million worth of rice annually, but it is even more sickening to learn that large rice importers in the country are making away with over US$421million annually – mainly through under-declaration and misclassification.
Our lead story uncovered these under-invoicing tactics employed by Ghanaian rice importers who want to cheat the system to reap windfall profits from selling a commodity that can easily be produced here with our abundant arable lands that are underutilised.
The country’s current rice consumption is reckoned at some 1.8 million tonnes, with local rice production less than 600,000 tonnes. Therefore, even as strenuous efforts are being made to increase domestic rice production, certain big rice importers are working hard to ensure that the void is not filled because of their unethical business practices.
While government is battling with revenue shortfalls, some Ghanaians are bent on ensuring that they cheat the system out of the revenue due it, and we are happy to hear the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, in his mid-year budget review say government is going to come down hard on tax defaulters and evaders.
Such persons, whether they are politically connected or not, should be made an example of so that in future importers will think twice before engaging in such nefarious activities. He said government is rolling out major initiatives to address tax compliance issues, and they include prosecution of tax evaders and corrupt tax officials.
To this end, a special VAT taskforce to deepen penetration from the current low 11 percent is on course. It is our fervent hope that these initiatives expose all evaders and prosecute same as earlier indicated. We cannot allow a few bad nuts to destroy efforts at domestic revenue mobilisation.