Arrest BNI officials, dismiss GRA staff at the ports – COPEC demands

File photo[/caption] The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) Ghana is demanding full scale investigations into the proliferation of black market trade in the petroleum downstream sector that allegedly caused the country to lose GHC850 million in revenue in 2016. It claimed the National Petroleum Authority and other revenue agencies are aware of the phenomenon where some operators evade taxes in the name of exporting petroleum products to neighbouring countries but eventually outwit the system to sell the products in the country. A statement issued by COPEC Wednesday wondered why the such phenomenon is pervasive at the Tema and Takoradi ports where security and revenue officials are stationed to check such illegal acts. It suggested some officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Bureau of National Investigations are complicit in the illegal acts and called for heads to roll in those institutions to curtail the illegal acts. The group specifically want an immediate resignation of the heads of monitoring and planning at the NPA for gross display of negligence to such heavy revenue losses, immediate dismissal or transfer of all Ghana Revenue Authority ( GRA ) officials from the various depots “for same neglect and in some cases active collusion to enable the illegal operators evade taxes”. Read the full statement issued by COPEC below CHAMBER OF PETROLEUM CONSUMERS INVESTIGATE THE NPA AND GRA OFFICALS IRO REVENUE LOSS OF GHC850 MILLION PETROLEUM CASH. The growing phenomenon of black marketers bringing in products through the main ports and the now widely know ‘export’ menace leading to eventual loss of needed revenue to both the state and other genuine players in Ghana’s petroleum downstream indeed leaves one wondering if any of the systems in place to curtail these practices is working or are deeply in active connivance with these illegal players to dupe the state and system. This issue which has been in the full knowledge of officials of these state institutions tasked with monitoring and curbing such nefarious practices has now metamorphosised into a full blown national crisis as illegal downstream operators are on record to have pocketed a colossal GHC850 million in the year 2016 alone. These black market operators are not aliens nor spirits who out of nowhere come to dump and sell these products without paying taxes but are all carrying one licence or the other from the National Petroleum Authority ( NPA ) whose mandate extends beyond just granting of licenses to also monitoring all activities downstream. These illegal operators load from depots mainly in Tema and Takoradi where there is a heavy security presence and involvement of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)officials together with National Security and the Bureau of National Security (BNI) officials. Vessels are known to dock at the main ports and along the coastline to discharge these illegal products onto bulk road vehicles in the full glare of security officials whose active connivance emboldens these illegal operators to carry out these activities without anyone being arrested. The menace of ‘EXPORT’ products marked for the neighboring landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali which allows these illegal operators to pay about $0.46/litre instead of the market rate of $0.96/litre for same by the genuine players downstream can only be blamed squarely at the doorsteps of NPA. The NPA is and has been aware of this growing menace where these operators evade taxes in the name of exporting the products but eventually selling same in Ghana yet has gone ahead to increase the number of export licences to these players over the past one year without any proper audit of the activities of the illegal players they keep licensing by the day. The NPA introduced a tracking system in April 2015 to track all products into and out of the country but that system seem not to have helped anything judging by the figures we are getting from this phenomenon where some operators not only dodge or evade taxes completely but also succeed in getting these products onto the markets. The rhetoric has become one too many from the NPA making one believe these illegal operators are above the law and as such not a single arrest has been made till this date and time though basic intelligence will reveal the identities of the faceless people behind this phenomenon ripping the country and industry off.

READ ALSO:  Martin Amidu backs down on Woyome's GHC51.2m judgement debt
PROPOSED ACTIONS 1. Immediate audit, investigation and open arrest and prosecution of ALL operators involved in this blatant evasion of taxes and subsequent dumping of untested products into our dumps and invariably into unsuspecting tanks of motorist. 2. Immediate dismissal or transfer and demotion of all security operatives who are paid to ensure such a creeping negative menace is checked and controlled. 3. Immediate halt of all petroeluem ‘exports’ from the southern part of the country to the Bolga depot and escorting of same at the expense of the business people engaged in genuine exports. 4. Setting up of a national tracking centre primarily to wire, track and audit all petroleum sales accross the country. 5. Immediate resignation of the heads of Monitoring and planning at the NPA for gross display of negligence to such heavy revenue losses over an entire year period which is still ongoing even today with likely losses for 2017 estimated to be even higher at around 1 billion when the government needs these revenues badly to carry out its development programmes. 6. Immediate dismissal or transfer of all Ghana Revenue Authority ( GRA ) officials from the various depots for same neglect and in some cases active collusion to enable the illegal operators evade taxes as some of these export trucks are known to load sometimes twice in a day to destinations that will normally take 3 days or more to do a return journey from. 7. Immediate arrests of all National Security and BNI officials at the ports of Tema and Takoradi where vessels dock to discharge all manner of products into trucks and are allowed to leave the well secured gates of these ports without any arrests of these operators who clearly pay their way through a supposed secured system. This disturbing menace will certainly continue to grow beyond tolerable limits and destroy Ghanas downstream if no concrete, hard and decisive are taken with immediate effect to curtail this as free unmerited monies continue to run down activities of the few law abiding businesses who choose not to get involved in this criminal activity. We call on the government, The NPA and the GRA to ensure immediate arrests and prosecution of ALL players in this criminal activity without fail as these people have all clearly benefited in one way or the other from criminal proceeds that destroys both the country and the downstream. Signed
READ ALSO:  'It doesn't take rocket science to identify state vehicles' - Ade Coker to gov't