Implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information policy begins in September -Finance Minister

Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta

Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta

The government will in September next year begin the implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) policy which will compel financial institutions in the country to collect and submit information on their operations to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta has said.

The move according to the Finance Minister will combat illicit financial flows to and from Ghana.

It also formed part of the Yaoundé Declaration, which calls upon the African Union to undertake an African-led, continental-wide initiative to tackle illicit financial flows and enhance domestic revenue mobilisation through tax transparency.

Mr Ofori-Atta disclosed this in speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Kwaku Kwarteng in Accra yesterday at the fifth Africa Initiative Taskforce meeting, said Ghana was currently putting in place the infrastructure to implement the AEOI policy.

The programme organised by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the  Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) under the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes programme.

It is being attended by representatives of state and government officials, civil society organisations from all over Africa and development partners to discuss measures and information sharing among the tax authorities in Africa.

Mr Ofori-Atta said in line with the AEOI legal framework, Ghana has passed the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Accounting Information Act, 2018 which will compel financial institutions to collect and submit information on their business operations to the GRA.

He said Ghana was not happy with its current rating of the second round of the Global Peer Review on tax transparency and exchange information, which downgraded the country from largely compliant to partially compliant, and was working to address that to combat illicit financial flows to and from the country.

“We are all aware that information sharing and data matching have the potential of improving revenue and curbing illicit financial flows on both the domestic and international front,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

He said the report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial flows from Africa chaired by Thabo Mbeki, estimated that illicit financial flows from Africa could be estimated at $50 billion per annum, approximately double the official development assistance that Africa receives, and that between 2000 and 2008, $252 billion in illicit flows were from the extractive industries in Africa.

The Advisor to the Commissioner General 2 of the GRA, Henry Yentumi said government was working to expand the tax net and also improve tax administration.

He said it was in that direction that the GRA had introduced the Tax Identification Number to help identify individuals and organisations which paid tax in a bid to enrol more people into the tax bracket.

Mr Yentumi entreated the individuals and organisations to use the tax amnesty provided by the GRA to register and pay for tax.

He said enforcement, education and persuasion could go a long way in improving tax collection and the Authority would stop at nothing to enforcing these three pillars to improve the country’s tax and revenue collection.

The Head of Secretariat of the Global Forum Initiative, Monica Bhatia said tax evasions were executed through illicit financial flows, saying “illicit financial flows were serious in Africa”.

She said the programme was to build the capacity of tax authorities and administrators in the African sub-region to combat illicit financial flows.

Madam Bhatia entreated tax authorities and administrators in Africa to increase information sharing among them.

By Kingsley Asare

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