From next week, manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers who fail to affix excise tax stamps on excisable goods will be arrested and have their goods seized, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has warned.
The GRA said it was moving into full enforcement of the Excise Tax Stamp Act 2013 (Act 873) and would not compromise on infractions from any quarters.
The law requires excise tax stamps to be affixed on specified excisable goods. Defaulters of the law will face an imposition of a 300 per cent penalty of the duties and taxes involved.
Briefing journalists in Accra yesterday on plans to roll out strategies to ensure full compliance with the law, the Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr Kofi Nti, said: “The days of impunity about non-compliance with tax laws are completely over. We wish to convey to the public that they cannot choose and select which of the tax laws they want to obey.”
Under the law, some products manufactured in Ghana, imported products and other goods prescribed by the Minister of Finance which are classified as excisable goods must have the stamps affixed on them before they are sold to the public.
The goods include cigarettes and other tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, whether bottled, canned, contained in kegs for sale or packaged in other forms; non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, whether bottled, canned or packaged in any other form, and bottled water.
Apart from the stamp helping to control the importation and local production of excisable goods for revenue purposes, Mr Nti explained, the public stood to benefit immensely from the initiative.
He pointed out that it would check illicit trading, smuggling and counterfeiting of excisable products, ensure good health of consumers, check under-declaration of goods and protect and increase tax revenue.
The Excise Tax Stamp Act was passed by Parliament in December 2013, with the aim of ensuring the affixing of excise tax stamps on specific excisable goods before they are delivered ex-factory, cleared from any port or presented for sale at any commercial level in Ghana.
The enforcement of the Excise Tax Stamp Act started at the ports on January 1, 2018, and at the points of sale on March 1, 2018.
In March 2018, a special task force from the GRA commenced the first phase of an enforcement exercise in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, during which goods which did not have the excise stamps affixed on them were removed from the shelves of some shops.
The team also found that some manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers were engaging in what was described as selective compliance, as they affixed the stamps on some goods and were, therefore, advised to strictly adhere to the law.
On October 1, 2018, Mr Nti said, the GRA would embark on the second phase of the enforcement and compliance exercise across the country.
“All the sanctions enshrined in the law on the failure to comply with the affixing of the stamps will be applied to the letter,” he said, and urged the public not to purchase goods with no stamps on them.
When asked about the concerns of manufacturers, importers and retailers who had indicated that the machines for affixing the stamps on their products were not available, the GRA boss said the machines were not expensive and were available in Ghana or could be imported.
Following the introduction of the act, some local manufacturers claimed the implementation of the Tax Stamp Policy had the potential of collapsing local manufacturing companies.
In February 2018, the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FBAG) threatened to withdraw all locally manufactured products from the market if the government went ahead with the implementation of the Tax Stamp Policy.
The Executive Secretary of the FBAG, Mr Samuel Aggrey, said all attempts to draw the attention of the government to its concerns had proved futile, hence the need to take drastic steps to drive home those concerns.