The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) says effective December 1, all duty-free shops will now have to pay customs duty and apply for a refund.
This new directive comes in the wake of recent criminal cases of the diversion of duty-free goods to the Ghanaian market which has so far caused the GRA $3.6 million.
Commissioner General of the GRA, Emmanuel Kofi Nti says the move comes in the wake of an abuse of the duty-free regime by most of these shops.
“It has always been our suspicion that the regime was being abused. It is for this reason that GRA has issued an advert stating that effective 1st December 2018, Duty-Free Shops will pay customs duty and taxes at the operations of all Duty-Free Shops are going to be subjected to comprehensive audit,” he revealed in a press engagement.
Meanwhile, A Free Zone Company, Comet Ghana Limited has been indicted by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for diverting goods meant for exportation at Paga at a tune of GH¢88,957 in duty liabilities. This arrest follows a similar arrest of some six GRA officials who also diverted duty-free goods worth $3.5 million dollars.
Facts of the case
On 6th November 2018, Ken Freight Logistics, licensed customs house agents acting on behalf of Comet Ghana Ltd, a registered free zone operator with no. F003 lodged a declaration with no. 92018485467 in the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) to export 3000 cartons of assorted wine to the Paga duty-free shop.
The Goods were removed from its warehouse located at the Tema Free Zone enclave. The consignment made up of 2000 cartons Don Garcia and 1000 Cartons Simon Sangaria wine valued at GHS139.359.89 is said to attract a duty liability of GH¢88,957.47.
On the 5th of November, following the presentation of the commercial invoice with no. TW-PAG (058/18) to the resident officer, revenue assistant, Anthony Ahadzi, a vehicle with registration no. GT 5160-12 driven by one John Tetteh was loaded with the goods en route to Paga. The officer raised a Landing Account with no. 0288475 to authenticate the transaction. After the said Fress Zone declaration has gone through compliance on the 6th of November, the goods were finally released by the Resident Officer on 8th November, 2018.
The truck was mounted with E-Trak Device with no. 612788 obtained and allegedly fixed by technicians from Magnate Technology Limited. Approval was granted for the export by Jonathan Aniewu, Officer-in-charge, Free Zones.
Acting on intelligence that a consignment of Free Zone goods released for export to Paga has been diverted and was being discharged to Nungua, the Commissioner-General dispatched the Surveillance team to the spot where the goods were being discharged and intercepted them.
The following suspects were arrested namely, Samuel Kwame Agbah, a worker of COMET, Seth Nyarko (Magnate Technology), John Tetteh ( Driver of GT 5160-12), Daniel Owusu (Mate).
According to the GRA, Samuel Agbah tried to bribe the team with 2000 cedis with a promise to add more subsequently. To this end, the suspects were handed over to the Marine Police after the arrest for interrogation and detention.
Further investigations by the GRA show that the seal had been opened with its key. In fact, the Authority states it is yet to discover who provided the key to the principal suspect (Samuel Agbah of COMET).
So far, the truck and its contents have been detained pending re-examination and proper re-assessment. The Free Zone Operator is yet to report. Also, a detailed examination of the GCNET system revealed that from the 1st September, 39 exportations had been done by COMET Ltd.
COMET Ghana LTD happens to be one of the four registered Free Zone companies operating duty-free shops at various border posts across the country including Osei Kojokrom, Elubo, Aflao, Gonokrom and Paga.
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