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We saved Ghana almost $150m in tax exemptions – Minority Leader

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The Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, has made claims that the Minority caucus has saved Ghana $150 million by challenging the government’s tax waiver for 42 companies under the One-District-One-Factory initiative.

He explained that, due to the Minority’s objections to certain company assessments, the exemptions were reduced from $459 million to $335 million.

In an interview on The Point of View on Citi TV with Bernard Avle, Dr. Ato Forson referenced an oil refinery that he believes was overvalued in its assessment.

“We worked for Parliament to institute a guideline and also worked for Parliament to approve tax exemptions Act. Since then, the government started submitting some tax exemptions and upon scrutiny, we noticed something fundamentally wrong with it.

“For example, there was one tax waiver for a company which has constructed an oil refinery [Sentuo Oil Refinery]. The finance ministry had done some assessments and sent them to us for approval. At the time, they brought it, it was about $300 and something million. We said we wanted to see the assessment, we looked at it, and we asked where it was coming from, and they said the Ministry of Finance and Ghana Revenue Authority.

“My assessment was that the GRA and the ministry cannot competently assess what goes into an oil refinery. They have to do that with the National Petroleum Authority because they are clothed with the competence to be able to do that, before we can sit and consider it, to date, that has not been done. Until the NPA validates that, there’s no way I can support it…We have heard the refinery is a secondhand refinery. The assessment may have been bloated.

“Since the time we stopped all of these, at the point, the value of those exemptions was $459 million… They had subsequently gone back, reviewed some of these tax exemptions and brought a revised amount worth $335 million, by that press statement alone. Based on our resistance alone, we have saved the nation almost $150 million. There have been some improvements. We’ve saved the taxpayer some money.”

He clarified that they are not against tax exemptions in principle, but they have issues with the tax exemptions for the 1D1F project.

“We’re not against tax exemptions in principle, but with this particular tax exemption for the 1D1F project, we have issues. For 2021, we felt that there was a need to review that policy because we have seen some abuses. And it’s only right at a point in time for a government or Parliament to review its position on certain things if you get additional information. From 2021, we took a strong view against some of the tax waivers approved under 1D1F.”

On May 20, the government released the tax waiver request list of companies under the 1D1F.

In 2021, the Ministry of Finance began processes to secure approximately $335,072,712.13 in tax exemptions for some 42 companies under the government’s One District One Factory initiative.

The Exemptions Act, 2022 (Act 1083) was presented in Parliament by the former Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in 2022.

Among the companies, the newly established Sentuo Oil Refinery Limited has the highest figure of $164,633,012.00.

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