GRA chases OMCs

The oil price spike

.. . shuts down 2 companies in Accra

Several Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) across the country, which through the sale of petroleum products, have collected taxes and levies on behalf of the state and refused to credit the amounts into government coffers are in hot waters as the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has set up a task force to shut down their operations.

Documents from the GRA has revealed that the amount, which runs into millions of cedis, were accrued largely between late 2019 to date.

A task force made up of personnel from the Debt Management Compliance and Enforcement Unit (DMCE) hit town yesterday with a court warrant obtained by the Commissioner General of the GRA empowering them to close the offices and supermarkets belonging to some of the defaulting companies. The exercise is part of a series of activities the GRA has planned to recovering tax debts from Oil Marketing Companies across the country.

Grid Petroleum, located at Dome, and Sonnidom Petroleum located at Achimota were among the companies closed down.  The management of the Grid and Sonnidom engaged members of the special task force in a lengthy discussion which hit a deadlock. Before locking the company, fuel attendants who were busy serving customers were stopped and the pumps turned off after which the team used padlocks and chains to lock up the company’s assets.

The two companies owed taxes to the tune of GH¢1.2 million and GH¢862,000, respectively. Other companies the tax force chased yesterday were Santol Limited who owe GH¢57.39 million; Life Petroleum, GH¢1.14 million; Sawiz Petroleum, GH¢5.12 million; Delian and Co Limited, GH¢11.63 million and Petra Energy, GH¢20.73 million.

The companies whose facilities were locked have been given 10 days to reconcile payment arrangement with the GRA or have their properties auctioned by government.

The leader of the team and a Chief Revenue Officer at the GRA, Nathaniel Nii Okai Tetteh told the B&FT in an interview apart from the closure, the GRA also has the powers to prosecute the directors of the company to retrieve the taxes and levies at stake.

He said the development was becoming worrying for the revenue collector, hence the reason to step out. “For the past one year the GRA realized that some OMCs were taking the taxes and not passing them on to the state. This means that they are keeping taxes and their profits. This trend, which begun late 2019, alarmed the Commissioner General and we set out to embark on this action to nip it in the bud.

It is not a pleasant exercise to go round shutting down businesses, but we want to send a strong message that when you lift the petroleum product and you sell, keep your profit and pay the taxes due to government. When we embark on such actions, it engenders compliance, and we see more people doing the right thing. We hope the OMCs will see this and do the right thing,” Mr. Tetteh said.

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