Accra, July 14, GNA - The M-Plaza Bus terminal at Avenor in Accra was on Thursday closed down and its assets confiscated to the State following the refusal of the Management to pay up an amount of 374.9 million cedis as taxes it owed the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service.
Management of the Company has up to 14 days to pay up the debt or else the Service would auction their assets to settle the debt.
The amount involved charges in taxes levied on a number of coaches the Mariset Company Limited, operators of the M-plaza travel and tours services and owners of the terminal bought from the Neoplan Ghana Company two years ago.
Mr Henry Brandford Sam, Revenue Officer of the Enforcement and Debt Management Unit of the VAT Secretariat, led a team of officials from the Ringway Estate Local VAT Office to serve the warrant signed by the Commissioner of VAT and to close down the Company. The Company after the purchase of the coaches pleaded with the VAT Service to allow it some time to pay up.
The operation also saw the closure of the workshop of the M-plaza located at Dworwulu.
The premises of Everstone Concrete Product Limited, located at Dzorwulu, were also locked up for being in default in paying 27.2 million cedis as VAT to the Service. The scene at the M-Plaza was disturbing as the disappointed passengers, who had bought tickets to travel to Kumasi, were asked to return them and collect their money back for the premises to be locked up.
Mr Sam said though such an action created inconveniences that was the only way the Service could use to collect its many debts, adding that, such action had proven to be the best tool to collect their money. He noted that between January and June 2006, the Service was able to collect about one billion cedis (90 per cent) out of 1.1billion cedis owed it through such distress action from 19 companies.
Mr Sam explained that the action, taken under the Section 34 of the VAT Act 1998 (Act 546) was ongoing and should not be taken as victimization of any company "but an exercise designed to collect taxes for the State to be used for developmental programmes".
Mr Albert Akplah, Head of the Ringway Estate Local VAT Office, described the exercise as a last resort of the Service to recover outstanding debt from defaulting VAT registered companies and persons. He, therefore, urged all VAT registered entities to voluntarily pay up their taxes to avoid such embarrassment and inconveniences. Meanwhile the Management of Mariset immediately after the closure went to pay 150 million cedis and had made satisfactory arrangements with the Service to settle the difference. The VAT Service accordingly opened up the terminal for normal operation at 1900 hours on Thursday.