Manufacturers transferring tax stamps to third parties

A Principal Revenue Officer of the GRA, Joseph Annan, checking the authenticity of the stamps
  • GRA expresses worry

The Ghana Revenue Authority has express worry that some manufacturers, particularly in the beverages industry are transferring tax stamps to third parties to be affixed on products.

The Authority maintains that the practice where manufacturers hand over the stamps to warehouse operators across the country is illegal.

The GRA says it is a legal requisite for manufacturers to affix the tax stamps at the various factories and production units as prescribed by the law, before the items are transported to the market.

Although the tax stamps have security features akin to those used on currency notes there are fears that this new illegal practice may create room for counterfeiting of the stamps. Under the existing law it is the retailer rather than the manufacturer that is liable if  a product on sale to the public is found to without a tax stamp and this apparently is encouraging some manufacturers not to take the affixation of the stamp seriously.

Speaking to the Goldstreet Business during an enforcement exercise by the GRA in some retail shops and warehouses on Tuesday, November 6, Chief Revenue Officer (Excise), Kwabena Apau Awua Anto, condemned the practice at an Accra Breweries Warehouse at Gbawe, where workers at the facility were affixing the stamps on the products.

“Accra Breweries has no authority to supply stamp to any entity nor any retailer. The stamps are supplied by the GRA to manufacturers and it must be affixed in the factories and not in the warehouses and retail shops,” Mr. Apau emphasized.

The revelation has come as a surprise to officials of the GRA particularly when education was in the past intensified in regard to how the stamps could be acquired and affixed to the various beverages that the law permits.

“We have said this several times that any retailer, distributor and wholesaler can apply for the stamp to affix on products that were in stock before the official commencement of the policy and it is only GRA that can issue stamps,” he said.

Since the beginning of the tax stamp policy, several companies have been applying to the GRA for the stamps.

While the illegal practice is predominantly done by beverage producers who complain that the process of affixing the tax stamps takes too long and thus slows down their production and distribution processes, there are growing worries that if the practice is not nipped in the bud, other manufacturers of fast moving consumer goods will follow suit for the same reason.

Mr. Apau thus expressed concern at the new development and said the Authority will deter such illegal acts from manufacturers.

“Applications (to the GRA for tax stamps) have since March this year, been coming from companies, wholesalers, importers, and most manufacturers,” he said.

During the enforcement exercise, the task force also confiscated some unstamped items at Osu, Achimota, Mile 7, and Gbawe.

Mr. Apau indicated that the seized items would attract a 300 percent penalty and could lead to five years imprisonment for non-compliance.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe