There was drama at the Obibini Blackman Company Limited, producers of Zet Mineral Water and Brukutu Bitters in Kumasi, as workers of the company fled like an automation, on seeing tax officials, who had gone to place to carry out tax stamp inspection.
For close to about a half-of-an-hour, a team of officers of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GNA), led by Mr. Sam Kwasi Yankyera, Technical Advisor to the Commissioner-General could not find anybody to engage with.
They were left with no other option but to enter the warehouse unaccompanied to open the products for inspection.
Not surprisingly, none of the products was affixed with the tax stamp – a clear breach of the GRA’s directive to manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and distributors to put the stamp on bottled water, beer, carbonated beverages, wine, spirits, energy drinks and cigarette.
Mr. Yankyera told journalists that the exercise was not meant to arrest or close down any factory.
It was meant to find out whether companies were complying with the excise tax stamp policy.
The exercise formed part of the phase one of the enforcement of the tax stamp compliance and the team had earlier, gone to the Kumasi Mall where they inspected some excisable products on the shelves at Shoprite and the Game.
They ordered the removal of products from the shelves which did not have the stamp in both shops and asked that these were displayed only after they had been affixed with the tax stamp.
At the Ababio Express Mall, all the excisable products on display had no tax stamp and the shop manager was told to remove the products, take inventory and send them to the office of the GRA for the right thing to be done.
Mr. Yankyera reminded manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and distributors to ensure compliance.
He noted that most of the products carrying the stamp were imported and said that was because the policy was being enforced at the points of entry.
He said the next phase of the enforcement would involve seizure of products and imposition of penalties.
Mr. Kofi Nti, the Commissioner General of the GRA, had earlier told a press briefing that the implementation of the tax stamp was not an introduction of a new tax.
It was a new way of administering the already existing excise tax.
He said the goal was to control the importation and local production of excisable goods for revenue and health purposes and to check under-declaration of goods to increase tax revenue.
He cautioned wholesalers, retailers and distributors to desist from purchasing affected products from manufacturers and importers who had refused to affix the tax stamp.
The consuming public must refuse to purchase products without the stamp since the policy was also meant to protect their health.