The Fourth Estate’s response to Finance Committees’ rejoinder on $4m tax waiver under 1D1F

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Despite incontrovertible evidence that the ongoing Airport City Le Meridien hotel project owned by 4-Mac benefitted from a $4 million tax exemption under the One District, One Factory programme, Kwaku Kwarteng, Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament says the claim is false.

A rejoinder signed by Mr. Kwarteng on August 23, 2023, in response to The Fourth Estate’s report that Parliament granted a $4 million tax exemption under the One District, One Factory Programme said our report is “inaccurate” because the Minister for Finance’s memorandum to Parliament did not refer to the One District, One Factory initiative in its request. 

The Obuasi West Member of Parliament insists that the company was not granted tax waivers under the one district-one factory initiative, adding that “Nowhere in the Ministry of Finance’s Memorandum to Parliament was there a reference to the one-district-one-factory initiative.”

However, the Committee’s Report under section 4.0  titled “Required Waiver” made reference to the Ministry of Finance as the requesting agency.

 “To ensure the execution of the projects and in line with the tax exemption regime under the One District One Factory Program, the Ministry of Finance is seeking Parliamentary approval to exempt import related taxes and domestic VAT up to the Cedi equivalent of US$6,389,428.00. on materials and equipment to be imported and procured domestically for the Construction of the facility.”

The document further states: “As part of the Government’s industrialization agenda, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is facilitating the establishment of industries across the country under the One District One Factory Program. 

“As part of the program the Government intends to extend tax incentives to a number of factories that seek to partner government in its industrialization drive. To this end, the Government intends to grant tax reliefs for the establishment of the Le Meridien Hotel, a hospitality facility in the Greater Accra Region.”

In section 5.1 of the same report, the Committee noted that:

“In an effort to speed up industrialization and in line with the government’s overall policy of granting tax reliefs to new companies under the One District One Factory Programme, the government intends to grant reliefs on equipment and materials to be imported for the execution of the Le Meridien Hotel project. This is consistent with the government’s overall policy to propel industrial growth under the 1D1F programme.”

This same report was submitted to Parliament and was adopted by 243 Members of Parliament on December 7, 2022. 

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An artistic impression of the Le Meridien Hotel project.

In putting together this report, The Fourth Estate reached out to Mr Kwarteng who declined to speak to the subject.

The Fourth Estate also reached out to Cassiel Ato Forson, a ranking member of the finance committee in parliament, at the time, for his comment but he did not respond.

Similarly, the ranking member of the finance committee and then member of the finance committee, Isaac Adongo, did not respond to messages from The Fourth Estate.

The Fourth Estate followed up with calls to deputy minister for finance, Dr John Kumah, on August 15, 2023, but got no response.

However, he reacted to a text and WhatsApp messages saying “Please, kindly write formally to the minister so the specific schedule officer may assist with the appropriate response. I don’t handle that schedule, thanks.”

That letter was submitted to the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, but there has since been no response.

Background

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The Le Meridien hotel project, which 4-mac Limited received a US $ 4 m tax waiver in December 2022.

In December 2022, Parliament granted a US$4 million tax waiver under the One District (1D1F), One Factory programme to 4-Mac Limited, a company that is building a hotel at Airport Residential in Accra. 

The waiver is to cover import bills and other import-related taxes of the company. The company also received a five-year tax holiday.

The parliamentary approval followed a request from the Ministry of Finance dated July 25, 2022. The ministry initially sought approval for almost US$6.4 million in import tax relief for the construction of the four-star, Le Meridien hotel.  The 160-room hotel is expected to open its doors to customers in 2025.

This tax exemption was packaged under the government’s flagship industrialisation policy, ‘One District, One Factory’. The committee in its report to the House dated November 25, 2022, recommended that the request be approved, but it reduced the amount from US$6,389,428 to US$3,919,628.

“That this Honourable House adopts the report of the Finance Committee on the Request for waiver of Import Duties, Import VAT, GETFund Levy, NHIL, EXIM Levy and Domestic VAT amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of Three Million, Nine Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Six Hundred and Twenty-Eight United States Dollars (US$3,919,628) on materials and equipment to be procured for the development of the Meridien Hotel by 4-Mac Limited.”

Compliance with Tax Obligations

The Committee’s report further stated that the company, 4-Mac Limited, fulfilled all its tax obligations to the state. 

A telephone number associated with the company’s GRA registration bears the name of one Bubu Gedza who told The Fourth Estate that he had nothing to do with the company.

“I think you are making a mistake. I don’t know what you’re talking about. It could be a mistake,” he said when asked about his association with the company.

Although The Fourth Estate made efforts to reach out to 4-Mac Limited, they were futile as the company’s digital footprint is scanty and provided no contact details.

The Fourth Estate did not find the company’s official website, email address, contact, and social media handles online.

You may also read:

How a hotel was designated as 1D1F and granted $4 million tax exemption

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