George-Blankson – GRA Boss
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) could not collect GH¢245.5 million from five institutions as taxes in 2012 but was able to spend over GH¢34,000 on hotel bills for one of its officers who was stationed at Denu in the Volta region.
This came to light when officials of GRA, led by the Commissioner-General, George Blankson appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament yesterday.
The institutions that are indebted to GRA are Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Water Company, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Ghana Heavy Equipment Company.
A member of the Committee and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Atwima Mponua, Isaac Asiamah, was upset that the GRA could spend that money on a hotel in a rural community like Denu, which could have been used to even build a house for the officer.
The GRA officials said that the official was put in a hotel to allow for the completion of the renovation of his bungalow, but Hon Asiamah did not accept the explanation from the GRA officials.
He said it was even against the law to put an officer in a hotel beyond three months, adding that the authorities at GRA did not act in the interest of the State.
The NPP MP said GRA, from the Auditor-General’s report many institutions, are indebted to the state in terms of taxes and that there is a huge revenue outstanding, with GH¢70.8 million liability from traders which should have been collected by the GRA for the state.
Another member of the committee and NPP MP for Bosomtwe, Simon Osei-Mensah said it was time parliament recommended punitive action against erring public officers.
“Mr. Chairman, I strongly suggest that heads must begin to roll because almost every year we come here to hear stories of negligence of duty leading to huge monetary losses to the state. I am sick and tired of repetitive stories of dereliction of duty,” Hon Osei-Mensah said, stressing that those supervisors, who do not exercise their supervisory roles over their subordinates, must be punished.
The Government Statistician, Dr Philomena Nyarko, who also appeared before the committee, said inflation in the country is now at 17.7 percent.
When asked to give statistics on youth unemployment in the country, Dr Nyarko said the she would later furnish the committee with that information.
Sitting continues today.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr