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26.09.2005 Business & Finance

Cigarette retailers call for reduction of taxes

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Kumasi, Sept 26, GNA - Retailers of British American Tobacco (BAT) cigarettes have called on the government to reduce the excessive excise duty on cigarettes produced by the company to enable them break even in the trade.

They contend that the constant increases in the prices of BAT's brands have led to consumers patronizing uncustomed imported cigarettes because of the liberal terms they enjoy from the suppliers.

Making their views known at a forum in Kumasi at the instance of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), Mr Osei Agyemang, Chairman of the Kumasi Cigarettes Retailers Association, said sometime ago when BAT agreed to give them three percent of the sales they made, smuggling of cigarettes reduced considerably.

Mr Agyemang said BAT later abrogated the agreement and introduced a new concept which drastically reduced their percentage earnings, adding that they had no option but to go back to accept foreign cigarettes for sale in order to survive.

Mr Christian Opare-Larbi, Area Sales Manager of BAT, said the company was paying as much as 140 percent as excise duty besides income tax and other levies and that all this contributed to high production cost as against the cost of smuggled cigarettes, which did not attract any duty or tax.

He said BAT is wholly Ghanaian and called for co-operation from the retailers to enable the company stay in business. Mr Opare-Larbi assured the retailers that he would convey their sentiments to the "appropriate quarters". He also informed them of the company's preparedness to offer them credit facilities if they could produce some form of collateral.

Mr C.K.D. Mensah, CEPS Sector Commander, called for constant dialogue and networking between BAT, retailers and CEPS so as to check the inflow of uncustomed foreign cigarettes into the country.