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05.11.2007 Business & Finance

Fake car registration: CEPS, DVLA faulted

By Business and Financial Times

About 13,000 vehicles licensed by the Driver and Vehicular Licensing Authority (DVLA) since the beginning of the year are said to ¬have been registered with fake documents.

Evidence laid before the four-member Committee set up by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu under the Chairmanship of Justice S.G. Baddoo, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, to investigate reported cases of extortion of money and other operational irregularities at the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), shows that these vehicles were imported into the country without paying the appropriate duty on them.

The DVLA which since the revelation set up a task force to seize all unaccustomed vehicles, has seized 103 vehicles and has sent them to CEPS with covering letters.

DVLA registered 42,181 vehicles last year and 36,501 in 2005.

The Committee Chairman, Justice Baddoo made these revelations and others last Friday in Accra when he presented the committee's report to the Minister.

The committee, mandated on July 13, 2007, had 41 public sittings during which it received evidence from 52 witnesses.

"There must be a strong connection between CEPS and the DVLA for such an evasive act to be carried out with ease," Justice Baddoo noted, recommending that the DVLA should be connected to the G.C.Net in all its branches to stem any future occurrences.

The Committee also found out that auction sales by the Auction Team were not taken with the slightest seriousness. Moreover the goods which were sold were unclaimed or uncleared cargo.

"The auctions, as a finding of fact, were a charade, pretence and a joke, " said Justice Baddoo adding that this has resulted in loses of trillions of cedis in government revenue.

A couple of officers found culpable are to face disciplinary actions as pertains under CEPS sanctions.

The committee has recommended the abolishment of the Central Auction Team for it to be replaced by an ad-hoc Committee set up by the Commissioner of CEPS with a mandate to conduct the auction for a specific period, as and when goods are gazetted for auction.

In addition CEPS itself should generate the list of uncleared cargo from the G.C.Net and not wait for the Shipping Lines.

In further discoveries, the Gold Card, a facility put in place by the Revenue Agencies' Governing Board (RAGB) to enable large tax compliant companies to clear their goods expeditiously from the ports without going through the normal process, is being accessed by all kinds of companies.

"The number of companies enjoying this facility as granted by CEPS is now over 144, and of greater concern is that this number includes individuals," Justice Baddoo disclosed.

Further revelations showed that the Customs Bonded Warehouses are being used by some companies to stock pile goods, such that revenue payment to the nation is unduly delayed.

"Even though perishable goods do not qualify for customs warehousing, some, such as ice cream and chicken were wrongfully kept, denying the nations of duties and taxes," Justice Baddoo said.

The report also disclosed that smuggling is going on with impunity, the chief goods among them being rice, wax prints and mobile phones.