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02.06.2005 Business & Finance

VAT Service grants lotto operators reprieve


Accra, June 2, GNA - The VAT Service on Thursday decided to suspend, for one week, its operation of arresting private lotto operators who are selling lotto coupons at prices inconsistent with the face value on the VAT-printed coupons.

The decision was reached at a meeting at which the Ghana Private Lotto Operators Association agreed to educate their writers to strictly sell the coupons on their face value denominations within the grace period.

Members of the Association, led by its President, Mr Sule A. Dolley, had appealed to the Management of the VAT Service to terminate the operation and open discussions towards a review of the guidelines on their operations to make it more convenient and effective for all stakeholders.

But Mr Joseph Blankson, Commissioner of the VAT Service, stressed that they could only be granted a provisional reprieve to put their house in order.

Additionally, about 60 writers and agents who have been arrested since the operation started on Sunday, May 22, would be granted police enquiry bail.

The Commissioner said from Sunday June 11, the Service would resume its monitoring operations with the Police and arrest recalcitrant writers.

Mr Blankson said though the writers may be experiencing some difficulties in the sale of the VAT-printed coupons, they could not contravene the law on selling coupons at their stipulated prices. Selling the coupons at variance with their face value would make it difficult to assess their tax values, he explained.

"The VAT-inclusive value of a stake should always be equal to the face value denominated on the coupon. Under no circumstances should the value of stake entered differ from the face value of the coupon," Mr Blankson quoted from the Public Notice Law 11.

However, the Commissioner said, it would meet members of the Association again on Thursday, June 16, to consider means of finding long-term solutions to their problems.

This includes the possible printing of coupons with higher denomination values in addition to the existing 500 cedis, 1,000 cedis, 2,000 cedis and 5,000 cedis, which were printed in 2000. The private lotto operators contend that it is cumbersome and difficult for their writers to sell coupons at the present values, which do not reflect current purchasing practices and patterns, hence the overpricing of the coupons.

They also argue that their writers also found it more convenient and productive issuing single coupons to individual buyers rather issuing more with different denominations.

They, therefore, suggested to the VAT Service to issue them with coupons without values just like the hotels and supermarkets so that they account for their taxes at the end of the month. Under the current system, they noted, the unregistered operators who did not sell with VAT coupons benefited more. 02 June 05