The Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly (CCMA) Monday shut down the Central Regional offices of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), over non-payment of property rates and business operating permits.
The ECG and SSNIT had not complied with payments since 2021 and 2022, respectively, to the tune of GHc140, 000.00, the Assembly said.
For ECG, the taskforce first locked up the prepared vending outlets, fault checking area, warehouse, and the main administrative block being occupied by various managers.
At the SSNIT Office, the CCMA task force drove all occupants out and locked the facility, which hosts institutions like the New Times Corporation, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, and Star Life Insurance.
The exercise affected scores of clients of those institutions who had gone there to transact business or access their services.
Property rate is the amount charged by the metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies (MMDAs) on immovable property, each year, calculated on the value of the property.
Article 245 of the 1992 Constitution prescribed the functions of district assemblies to include the collection of taxes, rates, duties, and fees for the provision of basic services, such as the construction and maintenance of streets, storm drains, recreational facilities and libraries.
Briefing the media after the exercise, Mr Jonathan Yeboah, the Metro Finance Officer, who led the team, said the move was necessitated after all efforts to encourage the two institutions to pay proved futile.
“We are not happy with our action today, but we are left with no option after several communications to remind them of the need to pay were unsuccessful,” he said.
“If they had come to the Assembly as we requested and properly engaged us, this would not have happened because we do not take delight in such things.”
Mr Yeboah expressed the Assembly’s determination to employ all legal means to claim the arrears to rake in the needed revenue to implement development projects.
He advised other institutions owing the Assembly to quickly engage the authorities to institute payment plans that would inure to good faith.
He noted that the Assembly had ceded its property rate collection from January 2023 to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Some officials of the two institutions, who pleaded anonymity, expressed worry over the exercise, saying it had affected their operations as many customers were left stranded.
At the ECG office, a staff, who appeared angry, told the taskforce that the exercise was unprofessional and wrong.
At the SSNIT office, an official, who said he was an accounts officer, told the CCMA team that his office had paid all the property rates and was surprised about the exercise.
“We have been embarrassed, disgraced and dragged out of our offices over non-payment of permits and rates.”
“I know the property rate has been paid to an account, but we have been asked by the Assembly to transfer into another account, so I am confused about the operation,” he said.