Stop political interference in revenue collection at TOR – COPEC tells Gov’t

The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers-Ghana (COPEC) has asked the government to pay critical attention to ending political interference in state institutions in the country’s quest to enhance revenue collection, particularly from Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).

The chamber contends that the country risks losing additional revenue, with more OMCs defaulting in tax payment if political interference continues to characterise the collection of taxes of petroleum products lifted from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).

This comes against the disclosure made in the 2020 Auditor-General’s Report, which showed that some 28 OMCs defaulted in the payment of taxes between July 2018 and December 2019 to the tune of GH₵226.9 million.

Expressing worry over OMCs defaulting in tax payment due to political interference, the Executive Secretary of COPEC, Duncan Amoah, emphasised that it is the responsibility of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to collect the taxes for the country.

He said, “if someone lifted from (petroleum products) and defaulted beyond the 21-day that we know after which they are due to make payment, it is up to GRA to ensure that it recovers those taxes due the state.”

He quickly added that “unfortunately, GRA is sometimes not allowed to work by the very politicians who should be getting this tax for the state. So, it is a complex mix, and we expect that GRA will bite and bark sometimes.

The COPEC Executive Secretary went on to say that “there is a challenge in there (at TOR) that needs fixing and until we fix that challenge we will come back next year with a similar report that says, others have defaulted to several hundreds of millions of cedis.”

Mr Duncan Amoah, has, therefore, urged the government to ensure that all the bottlenecks that impede the revenue collection authority in recovering taxes from OMCs at TOR are immediately addressed.

This, he said, would increase the country’s revenue to support the government’s development agenda.

He was commenting on the issue of 28 OMCs defaulting in tax payment in an interview monitored by The Ghana Report on Citi FM on Monday, August 16, 2021.

He also stated that often when such issues of irregularities occur among the OMCs, the government resorts to the revocation of licences of operators, instead of resorting to the law court to retrieve the money, a situation, COPEC find as undesirable.

“When somebody has lifted products and owes the state GH₵20 million and doesn’t make due to that commitment, how do we go-ahead to load that company further whereas the law-abiding ones, if they default for a week, their supplies are cut-off?” he quizzed.

Adding that, when this happens, “…and the only relief that the state can get is not to go to the court to get these monies of the companies but to revoke licences. We don’t find that as the most prudent use of our resource base.”

28 OMCs owe GRA GH₵226.9 million – A-G’s Report

A report released by the Auditor General’s Department has disclosed that 28 OMCs failed to pay GH₵226,942,904.00 taxes on petroleum products they lifted from TOR between July 2018 to December 2019.

This meant that the OMCs failed to comply with Section 104 of the Customs Act 2015 (Act 891), which provides that where the Commissioner-General establishes that a person owes duty or tax arrears, that person shall within thirty days of a written request by the Commissioner-General refund the money or pay the duty or tax arrears owed.

“Our audit disclosed that 28 OMCs from July 2018 to December 2019, lifted various petroleum products without paying the required duties and taxes totalling GH¢226,942,904.00 to GRA-Customs Division.

We recommended to the Commissioner, Customs Division to recover the amount of GH¢226,942,904.00 from the OMCs without any further delay,” the report stated.

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