GRA’s DTRD task force Is An Avenue For Extortion & Money Making – TAGG

Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG), one of Ghana’s biggest trade organisations in Ghana, has indicated that the Tema Port has become another tweak of money-making zone for the Commissioners of GRA, the Customs division, and the Domestic Tax Unit.

According to the Group, these Commissioners are using intimidation and all tactics to extort money from traders in the guise of mobilizing revenue for government.

Addressing a Press Conference in Accra, President of TAGG, Kwadwo Amoateng pointed out that these Commissioners have established DTRD task forces who go about harassing and extorting monies from traders and importers who come to clear their containers from the port.

He averred that, the Group has complained bitterly that their traders have been harassed and made to pay monies to Customs and DTRD task force that use the ignorance of traders and importers to extort money from them after clearing their containers from the port.

Addressing a Press Conference, Kwadwo Amoateng indicated that GRA Customs and Domestic division under the Ministry of Finance has established several task forces under the directives of the Commissioner General in the name of enforcement, but that these initiatives will not achieve their intended goals but instead encourage extortion of money from traders to enrich themselves in the name of alleged port intrusion of duties and tax evasion.
According to him, this Task Force goes as far as accepting Mobile Money transfers from importers after they have concluded negotiations over how much to pay.

He said these claims of port intrusion of duties and tax evasion is “untrue,” but was designed by the GRA Commissioner to intimidate those who are currently struggling to stay in business.

According to him, the current leadership of the GRA Commissioner General, the Commissioner Customs division, and the Domestic Tax Commissioner seem not to be concern about the growth of Ghanaian businesses and this is evident in the conduct of the current administration which doesn’t appear to care about traders’ suffering.

He averred that the lack of governmental coordination puts their loved ones, clients, and all Ghanaians in danger, as well as their financial stability and security.

On his part, General Secretary of TAGG, Nana Poku warned government to stop trying to kill businesses in an effort to jumpstart the economy because it appears that Ghana is falling behind its neighbors and is having trouble filling their ports with cargo, while their neighbors have been obviously experiencing an overflow of cargo as a result of flexible import duties of global trade at their ports.

He said, the implementing the Paperless Port System policy should be sufficient proof that the GRA customs division can enforce and collect duties for the government if it works diligently and upholds its reputation for excellence.
Nana Poku pointed out that the GRA had the foresight to introduce paperless processes for the Fastrack duty payments at our ports and that traders never envisaged that a task force would emerge to target traders and importers would immerge.

“It is beyond belief to evaluate the current leadership of the GRA Commissioner General, the Commissioner Customs division, and the Domestic Tax Commissioner given the numerous policy interventions during their term of office, both good and bad, and the bad impact on traders is more extreme within the final four years of this government. In the case of the Ghanaian trading community,” he said.

According to him, TAGG and its members have always been law-abiding citizens of Ghana, living in peace and providing services to their fellow citizens, yet the GRA is now deploring various forms of intimidation and threat-making in the name of raising tax and duty revenue for the government while simultaneously imposing and depriving traders of their capital to satisfy its demands.

He said: “Realising the benefits of the paperless policy for Ghana’s economy and for traders and importers specifically, we accepted the GRA’s offer to take part in a stakeholder discussion over the implementation of the paperless clearing system at the ports of Tema and Takoradi, which we explained to our traders that in order to protect Ghana’s economic development traders should embrace the processes that will remove human interface when transacting business at our various port.”

The Group also stated that the GRA Commissioner General as well as the Customs Commissioner are growing frustrations amongst traders and importers in the current economic situation which pose great danger for all Ghanaians as prices of goods would soon go up as a result of the Commissioner General and Commissioner Customs negligence and ineptitude.
The Group called on Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration to set up a committee to convene a stakeholder’s engagement to discuss these issues right now.