The Presidential Task Force that reported corruption at warehousing, involving a number of state and private organisations, might have fired a blank, with the companies involved returning fire at the task force.
Some are even advocating the abolishing of the task force, whose activity is rather embarrassing the business community.
After Customs, Electricity Company of Ghana and Hippo, it is now the turn of B5, a steel supplying company, which is challenging the task force to make available records to substantiate the claim of tax evasion and smuggling leveled against them.
Next to the steel company in the queue to lodge a complaint against the task force for allegedly, maligning it is the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).
Investigations this reporter conducted revealed that sometime in early October, 2013, some men stormed the premises of B5 at Kpone barrier and verbally introduced themselves as belonging to the presidential task force, and as such, wanted to have access to the company�s books to compare with a list they were holding.
Our information is that management of B5 demanded identity cards from the group, but none of them could produce any, but in spite of that, the company gave them audience because of the name �presidential� associated with the team.
The men, who were four in all, only produced phone numbers against their names to the administrative officials of the company. Since the members of the task force got to the company�s premises in the afternoon, the management reportedly asked them to report back the following day for the said books, which was complied with.
The following day, the men were handed a bunch of files to go through as they had requested, but they in turn gave it to the company�s resident customs officer to look out for the particular list for them, and then left.
They did not get back for the report from the customs officer, and the next thing was the publication that B5 was evading taxes and smuggling items.
The Managing Director of B5 Plus Limited, Mukesh Thakwani, described the allegations of tax evasion and smuggling as false.
According to him, this year alone, eight separate audits were conducted on the company, and no adverse findings were made against them.
Our finding from both B5 and Customs was that it was true that importations as far back as 2011 were still in the state revenue collection agency�s system as outstanding, which amounts to revenue locked up, and not tax evasion and smuggling as was being perceived by the presidential task force.
The understanding was that new consignments were always piled on old ones, and that each time the company wanted to have access to the steel products, it went for the top ones, which are indicated in the system, as such, leaving behind the old consignment, thereby creating the impression that because the new ones were gone, the old had been smuggled out, when, in the true sense, those items were still there.
The Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), in a letter dated 25th October, 2013, addressed to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Prosper Bani, expressed surprise at the news story, which was first heard on an Accra radio station.
The state refinery is alleged to have colluded with some officials and persons to evade import taxes due to the state to the tune of US$2,354,548.
Dr. Apaak, a Presidential Staffer, was mentioned as having granted interviews and details on the subject matter with the media.
TOR further stated that it is not aware of any investigation by any task force and that nobody contacted the refinery on the subject. The refinery, therefore, writes to seek clarification on the said report and asked for a copy of the report to enable the company to respond to the issue raised, if any.
Source: The Chronicle
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