The Coalition of Key Business Associations has expressed their displeasure at government’s attempt to disrupt and stifle businesses with the introduction of the tax stamp policy.
Speaking on behalf of the Coalition which includes beverage producers and importers of the affected commodities, general secretary of Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABG), Samuel Aggrey said as a matter of urgency, the implementation of the policy should be suspended to reengage stakeholders, in order to adopt the best practicable and workable technology.
Aggrey noted, saying; “we are not against the tax stamp policy, but the methods and processes by which it is being currently introduced ends up adding total hardship, undue cost which makes it completely counterproductive.”
In accordance with the Provisions of the Excise Tax Stamp Act, 2013 (Act 873) specified excisable products, such as cigarette and tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, textiles, bottled water among others imported or locally produced are required to be affixed with tax stamps supplied by the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA, before they are delivered ex-factory, cleared from any port of entry or presented for sale at any commercial level in Ghana.
He suggested that, with a digital technology approach, the government would not need to go around checking if the duties have been paid or not, rather at the push of a button, one can tell how many bottles a company has produced over a period. The deployment of such a technology would better help businesses.
He revealed that, currently there are about two companies waiting to deplete their stocks and then fold up.
The application machine is about US$100,000 to US$ 500,000, depending on the line of operation of each company.
Aggrey said, “If come March 1, these companies are not able to deploy the application machines, they will either have to use the manual type, which takes time out of production hours.”
Aside the installation of the stamp applicators at the various companies, similar facilities have been installed at the various border entry points of the country.
However, Aggrey questioned the capacity of the application facility at Tema, and its ability to handle large volumes of different commodities.
He said, “Who should be held liable for breakages and other incidence in the process of unpacking and repacking.”
The government entered into an agreement with Authentix Inc., USA for the supply of tax stamps, stamp applicators and consultancy services for the tracking of all excisable goods sold in the country.
It decided to bear the cost of the stamps in the first half of the year, and bear half of the cost between June and the close of the year 2018, after which it would review its position.
The general secretary revealed that not a single machine has been installed at the facility of local industries, hence their inability to comply with the directive of affixing stamps.
“So why would the Ministry of Finance (MoF) want to have their way by threatening manufacturers to comply. And why should Ghana pay Authentix USA this whooping amount of the Ghanaian tax payer’s money?” Aggrey asked.
He noted the project has suffered implementation hiccups in the past not for want of education or the lack of publicity but bad policy direction.
The March 2nd, 2015 and 2016 start points were all missed because project implementers had always adopted a ‘take it or leave it’ stance, he added.
By Joshua W. Amlanu