The GRA said it suspected that the Duty Free regime was being abused by some of the operators of the Free Zone Enclave.
Duty Free shops do not pay taxes on their imports.
“It has always been our suspicion that the regime was being abused. It is for this reason that the GRA has issued an advert stating that effective December 1, 2018, Duty Free Shops will pay customs duty and taxes at the time of importation and apply for refund,” Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti, the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, said on Monday.
Briefing the media on the diversion of goods from a Free Zone Enclave in Tema meant for exportation to Paga in the Upper East Region, Mr Nti said many importers had been hiding under the guise of the Free Zone Enclave to evade taxes.
He said such acts derailed efforts at mobilising revenue since those who diverted Free Zone goods back to the main market also went on to compete with other competitors who paid taxes on their imports, cheating the entire system.
Mr Nti has, therefore, warned such persons to stop those negative acts as the GRA was determined “to use all legitimate means to achieve the 2018 revenue target and will, therefore, remove all obstacles militating against this objective”.
Mr Nti appealed to the public to lend its full support to the GRA through the provision of relevant information that would lead to arrest of unscrupulous importers.
He urged business entities and individuals to settle all their tax liabilities.
Meanwhile the GRA on Friday arrested four persons for diverting goods worth GH¢139,359 to Nungua, a suburb of Accra, from a Free Zone Enclave meant for export to the Paga Duty Free Shop in the Upper East Region.
The goods, made up of 2,000 cartons (12xIL) of Don Garcia wine and 1,000 cartons of Simon Sangria wine, attracting a duty liability of GH¢88,957, were said to have been removed from the warehouse located at the Tema Free Zone Enclave.
The four suspects were arrested upon intelligence that the consignment of the goods released for export to Paga the previous day had been diverted.
The names of the suspects are Samuel Kwame Agbah, a worker of Comet Ghana Limited, Seth Nyarko, (Magnate Technology), John Tetteh, a driver of a truck with registration number GT 5160-12, and Daniel Owusu, a driver’s mate.
The truck and its contents have been detained pending re-examination and proper re-assessment.
A licensed Customs House Agents, acting on behalf of Comet Ghana Limited, a registered Free Zone Operator with no. F003, lodged a declaration with number 92018485496 in the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) to export the consignment to Paga on Tuesday, November 6.
A GRA Surveillance Team that arrived at Nungua where the goods were being discharged detected that the seal had been opened with its key and so the Authority was investigating to discover who provided the key to the principal suspect, Samuel Agbah.
Samuel Agbah also tried to bribe the officials with GH¢2,000 with a promise to add some more subsequently upon his arrest.
Comet 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.