MEMBERS OF the Ghana-Cote D'Ivoire Rice Importers and Sellers have denied the assertions by Finatrade, a rice importing firm in Ghana, that they do not pay taxes and duties to the government.
The Director in charge of Corporate Affairs of Finatrade, Mr. John Awuni, was reported on TV3 News on January 6, this year, as having said that members of the Ghana-Cote D'Ivoire Rice Importers have been evading taxes and duties, leading to the government losing over $40million dollars annually.
Mr. Awuni's assertion was in response to recent policy by the government, banning the importation of rice into Ghana by land and limiting it through only the Kotoka International Airport and the nation's two harbours.
But members of the association have vehemently denied the allegations by Mr. Awuni, describing it as an attempt to put the association in a bad light and to perpetuate their monopolistic agenda.
A spokesperson for the association, Yaw Korang, told a press conference in Kumasi that it is never true that they have not been paying taxes and duties when they import their products, stressing that members of the association have over the years been honouring their tax obligations at the nation's borders and also in the course of their trading.
According to him, the claims by Finatrade were clearly a calculated attempt to put the association in a bad light and to achieve their agenda of being the sole importers of rice products into the country.
"We have never on any occasion evaded tax or import duties as being alleged by Finatrade; we have, as responsible Ghanaians, paid our dues even in extreme challenges to business," Yaw Korang noted.
The association is, therefore, challenging Finatrade and other interested parties to provide evidence of their assertions that members of the Ghana-Cote D'Ivoire Rice Importers have been evading taxes and duties.
According to the spokesperson, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Customs Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS), have all the necessary documents covering their taxes and duties and challenged Finatrade to verify from the two institutions themselves.
Yaw Korang has, therefore, called on the government to tread cautiously in the handling of the matter in order not to bring untold hardships on the average consumer of rice products in the country.
According to him, since the enforcement of the ban, prices of rice products have skyrocketed between 20-25 percent on the market.
He contended that the poor Ghanaian may not eventually be able to afford rice, which he noted, has now become the common staple food for many homes, if the ban is not lifted.
He further observed that the policy only seek to promote businesses of foreign importers at the expense of Ghanaians.
They, therefore, called on the general public to join the call in getting government to review the ban in order to protect small Ghanaian businesses and to protect the poor Ghanaian from the effects of unfair market practices.