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09.06.2005 Regional News

Kumasi VAT officers extorting money


Kumasi, June 9, GNA - Mr. Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister, has warned VAT officials in the region against extortion of money from business people in the Kumasi metropolis to enable them to evade tax. He hinted that, he had received several complaints from business people that, VAT officers in the metropolis extorted huge sums of money from them for their personal use.

Mr Boafo gave the warning in an address read on his behalf at a seminar on VAT implications on the Financial Administration Act (Act654) in Kumasi on Thursday. The seminar, which was organised by the VAT Service was attended by accountants, auditors and purchasing officers in the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the Ashanti Region. It aimed at ensuring that accountants, auditors and purchasing officers followed the directives enshrined in the financial administration law and how it impinges on VAT operations.

Mr Boafo said some of the complainants were even prepared to identify the officers involved and cautioned the VAT officers to desist from the act or they would soon be caught to face the full rigours of the law. He said VAT was a major source of revenue to government and there was the need for efficient and sincere persons to handle the unit. Mr Boafo said MDAs accountants and auditors had a major role to ensure that state business was conducted as directed in the VAT Act.

Mr J.F Odartey Blanckson, VAT Commissioner, said its incumbent on MDAs to purchase from VAT registered firms and called for understanding to ensure that MDAs partner the Service to collect revenue for the state. He said the decision by the Financial Act for MDAs to transact business with only VAT registered companies was to ensure compliance. Mr Samuel Gyakye Smith, a resource person at the seminar, said if MDAs failed to demand a VAT invoice from registered persons, they had committed an offence under the law. He advised the participants not to see the tax as a punitive measure but as a payment of government services.

Mr Albert Adams, also a resource person said section 30 of the Act mandated government stores to procure goods and services from only VAT registered firms and stated that, failure to comply was a breach of the law. He urged the MDAs to buy from registered firms to help increase government revenue. Mr S.K Otabil, Ashanti Regional Head of VAT, said two district offices would soon be opened in the Kumasi metropolis to increase accessibility.