Eastern Region customs office seizes 150 vehicles

The Eastern Regional Office of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) last year impounded 110 uncustomed vehicles in the region.

Within two weeks this year as well, the division seized 40 uncustomed vehicles.

The seizure was carried out in special operations of the division task force led by the Officer in charge of the National Vehicle Task Force, Revenue Officer King Godfred Akorligleh.

According to the Sector Commander in charge of the Eastern Region, Assistant Commissioner of the Customs Division, Mary-Anne Okonor, most of the impounded vehicles were illegally imported into the region, while some which were legally brought in had not been taxed.

She explained that many importers had abused the ECOWAS protocol on the free movement of persons which allowed the temporary importation of passenger vehicles by citizens of member-states.

Mrs Okonor said that the protocol allowed private vehicles to be in the country for not more than 90 days and 15 days for commercial vehicles upon the production of documents.

Some of the documents for such vehicles, she indicated, were valid international driving licence, matriculation certificate or log book, a valid resident permit or work permit and an insurance policy recognised by member states (ECOWAS Brown Card).

The Assistant Commissioner said the owner should also have a carnet (an international customs and temporary export-import document) recognised within the ECOWAS community.

She pointed out that vehicles not covered by such documents should not be admitted into the country.

Duties, taxes

Mrs Okonor further stated that Ghanaians who did not reside in any of the ECOWAS states were not qualified for temporary vehicles importation protocol and that they must apply to pay duties and taxes due their vehicles in full.

Some Ghanaians, she said, had abused the system for vehicles cleared under exemptions, by purchasing such vehicles without paying tax and duties.

Such vehicles, Mrs Okonor noted, were imported by the presidency, ministries and their departments, diplomats, persons with disability (PWDs), free zones and other government initiatives.

She said any buyer of such vehicles was required by law to pay duties and taxes.

Vehicle smuggling

Mrs Okonor said smuggling was also another means, where vehicles were brought into the country through unapproved routes without the payment of duties and taxes as demanded by law (Customs Act 891, 2015, section 55).

She emphasised that smugglers of such vehicles later had the identification or the chassis numbers tampered with or altered that of legally imported vehicles with genuine vehicle documents.

She, therefore, advised buyers of vehicles in the region and the country to verify all documents of the vehicles by going to the nearest GRA customs division offices, to find out whether duties and taxes had been paid before purchasing them.

Mrs Okonor urged vehicle owners who had not paid the necessary duties and taxes on their vehicles to willingly declare to any customs division office in any part of the region for duties and taxes to be calculated for them to pay and that would not attract any penalty.

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