The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has embarked on special operations to check the import duties and all requisite taxes payment status of all vehicles and to impound those on which taxes had not been paid.
The exercise, which began on Monday, will see the deployment of Customs officials to garages, some major roads and the various Customs checkpoints throughout the country to seize vehicles that were illegally imported into the country.
Briefing the press ahead of the exercise, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, said the delayed implementation of the exercise was to afford the public at large the opportunity to rectify any deficiencies they may be having with their vehicles.
“Today, this intended exercise which has generated lot of anxiety in the media and the general public is taking place right after this briefing,” he said.
Mr Nti said intelligence reports reaching the GRA indicated that there were many such uncustomed vehicles and trucks driving on our roads with impunity without the payment of the requisite import duties and other taxes on them.
Last year, more than 754 vehicles and trucks were impounded and this year from January to date more than 450 vehicles had been seized.
He said the exercise was to create awareness that such special vehicle operation would be a sustained one and all persons who own vehicles or trucks and other prospective buyers should always contact the Customs Offices for verification of the status of the vehicles they intended to purchase.
Deputy Commissioner of Customs Preventive, Alhaji Seidu Iddrisu, who led the operation, explained that the impounded vehicles would be released to their owners when they meet the tax obligations.
He said if the owners failed to meet their tax obligations or were unable to produce the necessary documents for between 72 and 80 days, the vehicles would be auctioned.
“After 30 days, we convert the detention to seizure and there after we start processing it through ‘gazetting’ and other legal actions that may be taken to either auction it or any other way to dispose it off.”
He said many vehicle buyers might not be aware that the cars they were paying for were uncustomed because they bought them from people who circumvent the tax laws.
“I will also add that more than 90 percent of those we arrest are not aware that their vehicles were not customed because this thing is normally done by some crooks, they do it and sell it to them and by the time we arrest them, they may not even find the one who sold the car to you”.
Mr Iddrisu said the smugglers usually tampered with the chassis numbers of the cars and therefore, urged potential car buyers to contact the nearest Customs office to verify the tax liability and the authenticity of Customs documents covering the cars.