Home Business IPMC and Tata deal reopened by GRA boss

IPMC and Tata deal reopened by GRA boss

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Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) had been CANCELLED
Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) had been CANCELLED

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) under the recently appointed Commissioner-General, Julie Essiam has revived moves to handover Ghana’s domestic tax mobilization to an Indian company after the former Commissioner General, Rev. Dr. Amishaddai Owusu-Amoah had cancelled the whole process in January 2024 for lack of funds.

Techfocus24 reported that the former CG was removed and replaced with the current one, Julie Essiam mainly because he stood in the way of that deal when he realized it was not in the national interest. But the government, through some persons at the finance ministry and with the help of their new puppet at GRA, are bent on getting the deal through to ensure that by 2025, the Indian company, Tata Consulting Services, and its Indian-Ghanaian partner, IPMC will take over domestic tax mobilization in the country.

Take note, that in 2025, this government will be out of power, no matter which political party wins the 2024 elections. So, they are working to close an anti-local content deal that will take effect when another government is in power.

Way back January 3, 2024, Dr. Owusu-Amoah wrote to IPMC/Tata informing them that the whole process to award a contract for the building of an Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) had been CANCELLED because of budgetary cuts.

 

This was after Techfocus24 had initiated investigations into the whole deal and spoken with some key people at GRA, all of whom were opposed to the moves to take the contract from a very competent Ghanaian company called Axon Information Systems, whose ITAS called GITMIS had been lauded for helping GRA far exceed revenue targets for three years running.

Dr. Owusu-Amoah’s abrupt removal from office came together with the complete dissolution of the GRA Board, then led by Dr. Oteng Gyasi, who together with his board members, were also opposed to the deal.

Since getting wind of the new moves by Julie Essiam, Techfocus24 has reached out to several officials at GRA and recently past board members, and everyone of them passed the buck to the the new GRA boss, saying she is the only one who knows what she is doing.

It would also appear that the alleged boastful claims by officials of IPMC/Tata that GRA cannot stop them from getting the contract may be true after all; and the person at the centre of this questionable deal, is the IPMC CEO, Amar Deep – an Indian man who Ghana has gifted a soft-landing many years ago, but he has elected to pay back the country in this manner.

As we speak, IPMC/Tata’s technical and financial proposal for the contract has been sent to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) for approval, to clear the way for them to start installing their equipment on GRA’s systems in preparation for a takeover from Axon by 2025. By the time of this publication, it is possible the deal may have been approved by PPA.

This is in spite of a number of worrying facts, including the following:

1. The Central Tender Review Committee (CTRC) disqualified IPMC/Tata from getting the contract on the grounds that IPMC/Tata, among other things, failed to meet up to 80% of GRA’s requirements on deployment experience and also failed the 30% local content test.

2. First hand evidence gathered by top officials of GRA from Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda indicate that Tata’s ITAx system is very problematic on several levels.

3. The record is there to show that the current vendor – Axon, which is a wholly-Ghanaian-owned company, is doing a great job by all standards, and GRA officials have testified that Axon’s Ghana Integrated Tax Management and Information System (GITMIS) is at par with any ITAS in the world.

4. Before their abrupt dissolution, the board of GRA were opposed to the moves to award the contract to IPMC/Tata.

5. This government would have gone out of office by the time IPMC/Tata’s contract takes effect in 2025.

6. This writer is also reliably informed that the former CG wrote to the presidency and Finance Ministry and stated his objection to the deal with clear reasons.

7. The former CG also wrote to IPMC/Tata in January, informing them that the deal had been CANCELLED due for lack of funds.

But that was not the first time the former CG wrote a letter to say the process had been cancelled. Way back in August 2023, when 12 entities were in the run for the deal, he wrote a letter to all 12 companies telling them the deal was off due to lack of funds.

Then just a month later, in September 2023, the same former CG, wrote exclusively to IPMC/Tata and asked them to submit their technical and financial proposal for the same contract. Clearly, the CG was operating under the whims and caprices of persons in government with vested interest on that occasion.

But when Techfocus24 reached out to GRA staff and Board members, including the former CG and Board Chair, they paid heed to the voice of reason and put the brakes on the whole process, which later culminated in the January 3, 2024 letter, eventually leading to the removal of the former CG and dissolution of the Board.

Techfocus24 did a very detailed article about how this whole process began and how it finally led to the replacement of the 62-year-old former CG, with a 61-year-old woman under very strange circumstances including the complete dissolution of the entire GRA board.

Parliament must intervene

As things stand now, if Parliament does not intervene, Ghana’s domestic tax mobilization and all the critical national data it comes with, will go into the hands of an Indian company that has been kicked out of at least three other African countries.

If the deal goes through under the watch of this outgoing government, and the new government decides to cancel it, the Ghanaian taxpayer will end up paying huge judgement debt to that Indian company. This is exactly what former GRA Board Chair, Dr. Oteng Gyasi alluded to when he said procurement has become the main conduit for corrupt government officials and their cronies in the private sector to loot the national purse.

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