The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has asked the public to be wary of buying motor vehicles with tampered chassis.
According to Kumasi Sector Commander, Mawuse Ese Dadjo, people are increasingly falling prey to car dealers who attempt to abuse the temporary vehicle imports facility.
She says it is in the interest of buyers to cross-check the genuineness of documents from the appropriate authorities to ascertain whether duties and taxes have not been evaded.
The temporary vehicle imports under the Customs regulations is a system which permits motor vehicles to be imported temporarily without payment of Import Duty and other customs taxes for eventual re-exportation of the vehicle.
Such vehicles are said to be conditionally free of duty since they must be re-exported within three months of their first importation, either in the same state or after having undergone specified process or repairs.
The system is also designed primarily to enable traders to import such vehicles for advertising purposes with a view to soliciting orders and also enable tourists import them for their use or comfort in Ghana without monetary handicap.
Such vehicles must not be disposed of in the country without prior approval of the Commissioner of Customs.
However, some car dealers have devised various methods to deny the state of tax revenue through manipulation of international and ECOWAS protocols, especially transit trade, temporary vehicles imports.
The crime of tempering with the alpha numeric of chassis numbers of motor vehicles is the most profound.
According to Senior Customs Collector, Francis Opoku, reasons for the practice include suppressing the actual age of highly over-aged vehicles in order to avoid paying penalties on such vehicles; to evade payment of potential duties and tax liabilities; and to use existing genuine documents to cover uncustomed vehicles.
To combat the crime, Customs have stationed personnel with a broad knowledge of vehicle nomenclature at the Vehicle Examination and Licensing Division (VELD) to deal with vehicles fictitiously licensed.
Sector Commander Ese Dadjo however says it behooves on potential vehicle owners to look out for unscrupulous people who attempt to sell uncustomed vehicles.
She tells Luv Fm the public can access free services in vehicle inspection and document verification from any Customs office.
”It's possible that duties have not been paid on the cars so when you go ahead and pay to the owner and now the car is in your possession before we detect that duties have not been paid, you will pay the duty plus penalty. So it's very good for you to come to the nearest Customs office and verify your documents”, she emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Kumasi Sector Commander of Customs says under no circumstance should the importing public entrust money in the hands of an officer to pay for Customs charges on their behalf.
Madam Ese Dadjo says people should rather patronize banks established at the various Customs units to pay taxes to avoid falling victims to unscrupulous individuals, emphasizing that “Customs officers are not to handle money”.
Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh/Luv Fm/Ghana