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14 Lands Commission staff interdicted for stamp duty fraud

The Lands Commission has interdicted 14 staff for their involvement in Stamp Duty fraud.

The Stamp Duty fraud was detected in May 2022 when the Audit Unit of the Commission realized that the tax figures paid by some property owners for the registration of their properties failed to reflect the expected tax amount.

The fraud is alleged to involve a 100 million Ghana Cedis tax loss.

The affected staff are being taken through the court processes by the National Investigations Bureau.

Mr. Benjamin Arthur, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Commission, announced this during the Executive Secretary’s Annual Briefing and the launching of the Staff Awards Scheme in Accra, on Friday.

However, the Commission said after further investigations it realized that the amount has been exaggerated.

The Commission had also taken internal disciplinary action against the suspects and is undergoing final disciplinary processes to determine their fate within the Commission, Mr. Arthur stated.

Meanwhile, some Commission staff were also being taken through disciplinary procedures for fraudulent deletion and insertion of records in order to produce false search reports.

“It is important to state that while management will continue to provide the required job security for staff, such acts of indiscipline and fraud will not be condoned,” he said.

“Therefore, management will provide the state investigation bodies with the required assistance to weed out the bad nuts among us.”

The event also saw the outdoing of a five-year Business Strategic Plan of the Commission from 2023 to 2027, which will guide its operations.

The strategic plan has five major goals, including enhancing the Commission’s financial sustainability, digital reforms, and corporate image, as well as the competence and discipline of staff to improve service delivery.

The campaign, he explained, would focus on creating public awareness of the Commission’s mandate, service delivery, and specific processes in delivering those services, the fees chargeable for the services, and digital reform platforms, among many others.

That, he said, would enhance the corporate image of the Commission, public trust, and confidence in its operations.

“In Ghana, workers of the Lands Commission are perceived as taking the “biggest bribes,” and other media reports on the performance of the Commission often focused on our shortcomings, while little is reported on the efforts and good works of the Commission,” Mr. Arthur observed.

“The very hard works of most staff are drowned by the wrongs of the few. Most people are not well-informed about our operations and the role of the Commission in the land space.”

The outreach campaign is, therefore, intended to correct these misconceptions and create a positive corporate image going forward.

However, the Acting Executive Secretary was quick to explain that its corporate image redemption drive could only succeed if it was associated with improvements in service delivery to the public.

Mr. Arthur, thus, called for teamwork among the staff and management to complement one another and achieve the desired outcomes.

Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, highlighted the Ministry’s plans for this year, including digital transformation of land administration activities, completion of the new Lands Commission’s head office, which would be commissioned in April this year, and enhancement of the Commission’s corporate image.

He expressed confidence in the Commission’s leadership and believed that it was heading in the right direction.

“Ghanaians will overwhelmingly vouch for the credibility and efficiency of the Commission sooner or later,” he said.

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