Gov’t Loses Revenue – From Imported Juice Undervaluation

Government lost over GH¢2.1 million in revenue as a result of the undervaluation of some imported fruit juices into the country between January and May, this year. According to sources within the industry, the importer, distributor and wholesale prices at which some brands are sold in the country lend credence to the assertion that there is serious manipulation of the import values. The sources believe there could be possible collusion between custom officials on one hand and importers and suppliers on the other to enable the latter pay less duties. The sources further said the agreement on Customs Valuation recommended the use of actual price paid or payable subject to specified adjustments. “The differences in the declared invoiced prices of some particular fruit juices raise serious valuation issues if compared to fruit juices of comparable quality,” Samuel Prempeh, a local juice producer explained. He further said the nature of the undervaluation of the imported fruits juices were serious and called on the government to take immediate action to check the practice. “We produce the same products in the country, pay the right taxes and give employment to many Ghanaians but some of the fruit juice importers undervalue theirs,” adding that “when they do so, they are able to sell at cheaper prices because they pay less to the state in terms of taxes,” a source said. The sources, for instance, said the deductive approach used as the base value either for the distributor price or the retail price of some of the imported products made from fruit nectar gave considerably higher Freight on Board (FOB) values than those declared. Until the practice is halted, government will not be able to meet its revenue target because the practice is widespread. In mid-2013, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) undertook some remedial measures to block those loopholes but the practice has resurfaced causing serious challenges at the points of entry. Meanwhile, a Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, who visited the GRA during the week, has asked the agencies to ensure that all leakages in the system were blocked to enable them to meet their targets.