Govt To Get Tough On Importers
5/11/2012 7:33:35 AM -
Hannah Tetteh - Minister of Trade and Industry The government has declared its intention to prosecute importers and clearing agents who submit falsified documents when they are clearing goods from the ports.
It said such practices constitute fraud and a deliberate attempt to either evade or avoid tax which is a punishable offence under the law and noted that those caught would not be spared.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Nii Ansah-Adjaye, who gave the warning at a seminar organised by BIVAC, a member of the BUREAU VERITAS Group and one of the five destination inspection companies in the country for importers and traders in Accra, said the recent revelations in the scheme presented the country with challenges that require the collective efforts of all players in its solution.
These revelations, according to him, include “the rampant discrepancies on documents such as invoices and bill of lading, among other things, submitted by some importers/agents and some companies, all with the view to evading or avoiding duties and other taxes.”
The seminar, which attracted a large number of stakeholders in the industry, was to expose them to various processes and procedures in the clearance of goods from the ports and also assure them of the commitment of the company to remove all bottlenecks that cause delays during the clearing of goods and to forge closer collaboration to ensure a win-win situation.
It also comes on the back of reports about the heavy loses to the state because of the fraudulent activities of some importers.
Nii Ansah-Adjaye said “Fraudsters are constantly learning new ways and techniques of circumventing the system and noted that “importers/agents, freight forwarders, customs officers and inspection companies and other stakeholders each have a role to play as we try to streamline and de-stigmatise the scheme.”
The Managing Director of BIVAC, Mr Herve Chassagne, in his presentation assured importers of the commitment of the company to facilitate the speedy clearance of their goods from the ports of entry.
Consequently, he entreated importers to ensure that they “submit the right documents covering their goods to enable us to do quick verification to enable them to clear them on time”.
Mr Chassange also said “it is never the intention of the DICs to delay any importer at the ports because that also goes to affect the image of the company in charge”.
He said as per their role, BIVAC, for instance, is mandated by the law to ensure that documents presented for verification correspond with the goods in the containers, among other things.
“BIVAC is a customer-oriented company which believes that an organisation depends on its customers, hence its certification upgrade from ISO 9000 and to ISO 9001:2008 by British Standards Institutes,” he said.
Mr Chaasagne said all BIVAC business units are automatically covered by this certificate and added that the company has a Quality Assurance Division which coordinates the implementation of quality management system to meet the satisfaction of its customers.
He added that BIVAC had a code of ethics which directs the conduct of its employees and ensures “our impartiality and independence and demonstrates our commitment to client confidentiality”.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Commissioner of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Major-General Carl Modey, called on BIVAC and the other DICs to deliver first-class services to the business community in a manner that will “transform our operations to reflect the business requirements and expectations of the 21st century”.
“I must acknowledge that in spite of the numerous challenges and complaints, Customs is highly appreciative of the role BIVAC is playing in building the capacity of our staff and other stakeholders in classification and valuation”, he said.
He said the success of Customs depended on “our ability to depart from old habits, discard outmoded knowledge and obsolete experiences and learn new techniques based on best practice”.