Ghanaian merchants who import rice from La Cote d'Iviore have denied allegations that they connive with officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to engage in smuggling and tax evasion to the detriment of the country.
They further refuted accusations that they were involved in arms and cocaine importation into the country.
Rather, they said, they were genuine businessmen and women going about their legitimate enterprises to earn a living for themselves and their families, as well as contribute to the development of the state.
Addressing a press conference at Kofi Badu Krom, a town on the Ghana-La Cote d'Iviore border in the Dormaa West Municipality in the Brong Ahafo Region, Mr Kwabena Nketiah-Dardom, a spokesperson for the importers, said they had not connived with any CEPS official at the border to evade taxes due the state.
The importers were reacting to a publication in an Accra daily captioned “Smuggling Scandal Uncovered, Billions Go Down The Drain As CEPS Officials Join Smuggling Syndicate To Loot Mother Ghana”.
Mr Nketiah-Dardom described the allegations as unfounded, false and calculated to kill indigenous Ghanaian businesses which had contributed significantly towards national revenue generation.
He said they were a group of law abiding citizens engaged in genuine business of rice importation and, therefore, debunked suggestions that they had constituted themselves into any smuggling syndicate.
Mr Nketiah-Dardom, who showed some of the documents covering the taxes paid to the state at the press conference, said they had been in the rice importation business for over seven years now and had been diligent in honouring all their tax obligations to the state.
“All documents covering the taxes and duties that we have paid since we commenced our businesses over seven years ago are available for any interested party to check," he stated.
He debunked the assertion that a 40 footer container truckload of rice attracted a duty of GH¢50, saying the duties ranged from a minimum of GH¢500 to GH¢23,000, depending on the consignment.