GUTA condemned harassment by GRA officials

GUTA President, Dr. Joseph Obeng during press conference

..but revenue authority responds with impressive figures

The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has condemned what they claim as “harassment of its members” by officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

In a press conference held in Accra, the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, Dr. Joseph Obeng claimed that the GRA has established a task force to intercept goods and cargo after they are cleared and this has become unbearable.

He said cargoes bound for the Ashanti region are mostly affected by this activity.

According to the GUTA President, this act is not a good look for the customs systems deployed at the country’s ports and go a long way to derail trade facilitation.

He said “GRA cannot assign any cogent reason for the harassment of the traders in the Ashanti region.”

The Ghana Union of Traders Association said they will no longer tolerate the interception of cargoes after they have left the port, and other activities that frustrate the business climate in Ghana.

Dr. Obeng said with regards to the VAT invigilation exercise, traders under the wing of GUTA detest the “Rambo style manner of infiltration and invasion of our privacy in our business premises by the GRA.”

These allegations did not down well with the Revenue Authority who quickly sent out a press release to debunk these allegations and provide clarity on what was termed as “compliance and enforcement measures”.

The GRA response was particularly targeted at narratives circulating in the media space from members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG).

These narratives include the alleged harassment and extortion by GRA Task forces as well as frequent arrests of goods by customs monitoring task forces eventually leading to payment of heavy penalties by traders.

In the press release, the management of GRA provided some clarification on the subject.

The Authority indicated that the various lawful compliance and enforcement measures such as the VAT invigilation exercise has led to significant additional revenue gains in addition to checking non-compliant tax payers.

Additionally, the GRA says the Customs monitoring task forces has intercepted many smuggling attempts and short collections leading to added revenue gains.

The Ghana Revenue Authority revealed that the VAT invigilation exercise being criticized by the trading associations has led to a huge increase in VAT Collection. A company in the manufacturing sector for example which records monthly sales of GHC 3 million recorded almost GHC 8 Million during the invigilation.

The Authority also added that the work of the monitoring task forces has led to revenue gains between October 2022 to August 2023 totalling GHC 181,478,844.93.

The GRA said in relation to its recently implemented upfront VAT payment regime, a total of GHC 104,468,870.17 were made from 6th June to 31st August 2023 with a corresponding increase in VAT registration standing at 4,064.

The Revenue Authority therefore urged the GUTA executives to impress upon their members to be compliant as the GRA is continuously working to engage them to resolve their issues.

The Authority also urged the trading public to not hesitate to report any misconduct on the part of GRA officials during these exercises on 0800-900-110.

The GRA has assured that it will continue to ensure that human involvement in revenue mobilization is reduced while improving on automation of systems to eliminate the use of discretion and thereby assist taxpayers to comply.

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