- urges other sectors to embrace system to kick out fakers
- calls for further digitisation of the process
By Bernard Yaw ASHIADEY and Ebenezer Chike Adjei NJOKU
Introduced primarily to improve the mobilisation of taxes outstanding, particularly in the beverage industry, the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) excise tax stamp has been a critical tool in combatting the menace of bootleg products, Richard Adjei, Managing Director/Chairman-Kasapreko Company Limited, has disclosed.
According to him, the stamp’s advent has reduced instances of counterfeiting by more than 70% – due to the vigilance of a joint taskforce made up of representatives from the beverage industry and GRA, as well as the difficulties counterfeiters encounter in printing fake stamps.
It will be recalled that introduction of the tax stamp was riddled with disagreements, as government and beverage manufacturers were at loggerheads as to use and placement of the paper stamps, as industry players argued that paper would lead to inefficiency – with production time rising by as much as 10 percent.
Speaking to the B&FT in an exclusive interview on a range of private sector issues, Mr. Adjei once again clarified that the reservations expressed by the beverage manufacturers had been in relation to the loss of productivity due to factors such as the unavailability of paper stamps at the time of production; or technical faults with the machines affixing the stamps, which would have rendered production impossible. He however added that following the impasse, industry players are reaping an unintended benefit.
Responding to a question on measures to combat the proliferation of counterfeit goods, he singled out the stamps for commendation, stating: “One thing that has been very important for us has been the tax stamp; it has really helped. With the tax stamp we can scan to see if it is a fake or not; so that has come to support industry in limiting the spread of fake products. Because if you are faking a product, where are you going to get the original tax stamp from?”
Continuing, he said: “The counterfeiters have to resort to printing counterfeit stamps, which when government agents go for inspection they are able to detect the fake stamps and trace the source. Counterfeiting has gone down drastically, perhaps by more than 70%. We have a task force made up of several industry stakeholders, and once we find a product with fake tax stamp we send it to the GRA and they are able to track the counterfeiters”.
He added that the comparatively lower level of production – as a result of the time lost affixing the stamps – has been offset by a drop in the import of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as importers who had previously evaded taxes at the port have had to lower their imports as a result of the policy.
He however renewed calls for further digitisation of the process, which he firmly believes will lead to increased efficiency due to time saved, and it would be more environmentally responsible as less paper will be used. He also called for increased sensitisation on the benefits of using the stamps to manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike.
“We have the retailers who are now being encouraged to check the validity of stamps on some of these products by using the app, and we hope to see consumers taking even more interest in these things.”
Mr. Adjei commended government’s efforts at cushioning Industry during the pandemic, and expressed the belief that further widening the tax net through introduction of the stamp to other industries will invariably have a ripple-effect on taxes and future government support.