The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is to collect a total GH245.5 million in tax liabilities, which have accumulated since 2003, from six institutions.
The institutions are the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Water Company Limited, Tema Oil Refinery, Ghana Heavy Equipment and West African Drilling Services.
These institutions have not settled their tax liabilities at the Large Tax Payers Office for some years despite the provision of 134 (2d) of the Internal Revenue Act (Act 592) which states that a person assessed shall pay the tax due within 30 days from the date of service of notice from assessment.
Consequently, Mr George Blankson, the Commissioner of GRA, was invited to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on Wednesday to explain why the Authority had allowed such gargantuan debt for years.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, the Member of Parliament of Dormaa Central, is chairing the Committee, which is considering the 2012 Auditor-General’s Department Report, which captured the tax irregularity.
Members on the Committee demanded an update of the indebtedness of the institutions from the GRA Commissioner, but he could not readily provide answers.
He said the Authority had managed to retrieve some of the debt and expressed the commitment to retrieve all the monies from the institutions.
The Committee also probed into a 2.3 million tax exemption given to 10 Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to deliver petroleum products without proper documentation.
Members also expressed concern about exemption given without due recourse to Parliament because the legislature was the only institution mandated by law to grant tax exemption.
“Nobody in GRA grants tax exemption. I have never granted anyone tax exemption and I want that to be on record,” Mr. Blankson said and added that his outfit was only given documents to the effect that the OMCs had been exempted from paying taxes.
Also, the law makers expressed displeasure over 60 traders who had evaded taxes (Value Added Taxes) equivalent to about GH70.8 million.
They blamed the GRA for its failure to utilize the institutional and legal means available to it to retrieve the monies and allowed the outstanding debts to be sustained.
Mrs. Mona Quartey, Deputy Minister of Finance came to the rescue of the GRA and told the Committee that the traders had paid GH69 million, leaving a balance of GH1 million.
She said the Ministry would assist the GRA to address such infractions to ensure that all tax payers honoured their tax liabilities on time.
It also came to light at the Committee’s deliberations that a stock taking at the Customs Division in Kumasi revealed that one Opel Astra vehicle was missing from state warehouse.
Interestingly, there was no police report on the incident, the A-G’s report said.
The Committee urged the Authority to conduct full investigations into the matter and impose sanctions accordingly.
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