A factory audit disagreement has burst into an open duel with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, threatening brimstone against management of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
The GRA has visited the maverick MP’s steel factory under construction and a cold store to conduct audits as part of measures to improve compliance while fine-tuning controls, but the lawmaker sees it as a witch-hunting exercise after declaring his intention to lead his party in the 2024 general election.
According to Mr. Agyapong, also known as Akom Preko, some party gurus are behind GRA’s exercise to intimidate and frustrate his political ambition, and have threatened to leak the party’s top secrets if they dare him.
“I am being nice and charitable to NPP [members]. They shouldn’t dare me; they shouldn’t dare me. I will finish the party; the things I will say. The things I know that I have kept quiet,” he threatened.
Speaking on Kumasi-based Sompa FM, the NPP MP described the GRA’s deployment of personnel to his cold stores to monitor how much revenue he makes on a daily basis as a witch-hunting exercise designed to destroy his business.
He said he had opened businesses under the last five presidents and had never experienced such frustration and harassment, asserting that the GRA could never collapse his business.
He served notice to fight the GRA management because his businesses provide income for many of the country’s youth.
“I won’t stand aloof for them to crash everything that I have built to support the over 1,000 youth workers earning salaries because of my businesses,” he stated.
Mr. Agyapong also threatened to expose alleged corrupt dealing at the GRA, intimating, “Whether they are auditing, whether they are collapsing the business, I swear to God, Ghana Revenue Authority can never collapse my business because I will fight and expose them as well.”
But the GRA has rejected the accusation of constant harassment through unwarranted audits of his companies, noting, “GRA wishes to categorically refute the specific allegation of harassment at a factory under construction owned by the MP.”
“We wish to clarify that as part of GRA’s mandate and in line with World Customs Organisation’s (WCO’s) guidelines in ensuring adherence to best practices; such exercises are regularly conducted,” management of the GRA said in a statement.
The statement, signed by Florence Asante, Assistant Commissioner in charge of Communication & Public Affairs, said “the purpose of such audits are to measure and improve compliance while fine-tuning controls.”
“The factory in question together with other companies were thus audited to check the value of goods imported and their intended use. We wish to disclose that in January and February 2023, about thirty (30) of such risk-based activities were carried out on a number of businesses,” the statement added.
It continued that in the area of enforcement and compliance, GRA carries out invoice invigilation exercises to ascertain Value Added Tax (VAT) paid by VAT registered businesses.
“These exercises entail stationing staff on the premises of VAT registered businesses such as shops, restaurants and manufacturing sites to check the issuance of VAT invoices.
“In September 2022, invigilation exercises were intensified nationwide in order to enforce the issuance of VAT invoices and to encourage persons who buy goods and patronise services to demand for VAT invoices,” the GRA explained.
It said the exercise was very successful and GRA intends to scale up the invoice invigilation exercise from April 2023 as part of its revenue mobilisation efforts.
“In carrying out all these enforcement and compliance activities, staff of GRA have been advised to remain professional and act at all times with integrity as required by the Authority’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
“We therefore encourage any member of the public who has evidence of any alleged corrupt practice by an official of the Authority to report such criminal acts to the Management of GRA on 0800-900-110 for redress,” the statement said.
The GRA assured the MP and all taxpayers of its readiness to receive complaints and feedback on its work, pointing out, “GRA remains committed to carrying out its mandate of revenue mobilisation with integrity, fairness and utmost professionalism.”
BY Ernest Kofi Adu