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Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, has launched the tax stamp policy as part of government’s effort to address the counterfeiting of products on the markets and to improve revenue generation.
He said the implementation of the tax stamps policy was not an imposition of additional tax by government but a measure to protect genuine businesses from counterfeiters and also to ensure that more people and businesses pay their due taxes.
Tax stamps are small stickers with security features, supplied by government to some manufacturers and importers and to be affixed to their products before they are released onto the market.
These stamps once they are seen on a product provide significant guarantee that the products are authentic.
In line with the Excise Tax Act, 2013, government will begin implementation with Tobacco, Alcoholic and non-Alcoholic drinks, bottled water and textiles when the policy takes-off in January 2018.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said through the use of tax stamps, government seeks to partner businesses that may have fallen or could fall victim to product counterfeiting to fight the anti-business phenomenon.
“Once the tax stamp policy has been adequately rolled out, government will lead the campaign to remind consumers that patronage of products that ought to have tax stamps but do not have tax stamps is unsafe and that consumers do so at their own risk,” he said.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said when the enforcement of the tax stamp policy starts, products that are required to carry the stamps but do not do so, would be removed from the market and the appropriate sanctions imposed on offenders.
The Minister said government would continue to work closely with traders and manufacturers from now to the close of the year to finalise arrangement for the affixing of the stamps by businesses that are required to do so.
He said while the Excise Tax Stamp Act required businesses to bear the cost of the stamps, it gives freedom to government to subsidise the cost, government would from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018, bear the entire cost of the stamps supplied to businesses.
Also, between June and the close of the year 2018, government will still bear half the cost of the stamps.
Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said the implementation of the excise tax stamp policy seeks to control the importation and local production of excisable goods for revenue purposes, check under-declaration of goods and check illicit trading, smuggling and counterfeiting of excisable products.
He said the tax stamp is not an introduction of a new tax, rather a new way of administering the already existing excise tax.
Mr. Nti said the Stamp would enable the GRA to effectively monitor the payment of Excise Tax to ensure that the correct quantum of tax is paid, adding that, the GRA will between now and the end of the year mount an intensive public education on the implementation of the policy.
He urged local manufacturers and importers of excisable products to register with the GRA to enable them to obtain the stamp.
To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Nti said importers, wholsalers and retailers will need to clear the stocks of excisable goods without the stamp before the effective date of implementation.
He said persons, who display, sell or distribute excise goods without a stamp at the end of the transitional period will be punished according to the law with a fine not exceeding 300 per cent of the duties and taxes involved or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or to both.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, said the implementation of the stamp policy will go a long way to protect consumers from the negative consequences of the consumption of counterfeit products.
He said the stamp will also help stem the tide of smuggling.
Professor George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, the Minister of Planning, who chaired the launch ceremony, emphasised that, the tax stamp was new, but a simple measure aimed at checking the loopholes in the administration of excise tax in the country.