The Tax Justice Coalition (TJC) – Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), on Tuesday held a public forum in Tamale, to sensitise stakeholders on the importance of tax compliance and the responsibility of citizens in nation building.
The forum, which was on the theme: “Addressing policy challenges and regulatory loopholes to improve tax compliance in Ghana,” was part of the Ghana Tax Dialogue project undertaken by the Coalition with support from Oxfam-Ghana.
The coalition is divided into three zones; Northern, Middle and Southern Zones, and the programme was the first of its kind in the Northern Zone, as similar programmes would be held in Takoradi in the Western Region and Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
The programme attracted civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and corporate institutions drawn from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions and the media.
Mr Abu Nurudeen, the Principal Revenue Officer at the Northern Regional Office of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) who schooled participants on the role of taxation in national economy, said tax revenue was used to defray cost of services provided by the State.
He noted that “Taxes are used as a means of bridging the inequality gap, going by equity principles of taxation as applicable in the case of employee and individual income taxation,” and emphasised that taxes were used to restrain the consumption of certain types of alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
Mr Nurudeen explained that taxation was used to control some aspects of the economy including; balance of payment, employment, savings, investment and productivity, and said good taxes should be fair to the people who were required to pay, and that people should be able to determine their true tax liability with fair degree of accuracy.
Mr Vitus Adaboo Azeem, Chairman of the TJC, said a country where tax evasions and tax avoidance were high, government would not be able to generate revenue required for its development agenda.
“Tax evasion and avoidance are both revenue leakages that are a headache to most governments globally,” he said.
Mr Azeem said Ghana’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was 17.2 per cent in 2015 and 17.6 per cent in 2016, compared to a Sub-Saharan average of 18.2 per cent in 2016, “This was an impressive increase from 11 per cent in 2000. I am convinced that it is possible for Ghana to get 20 per cent of GDP in revenue if stringent measures were to be effected.”
According to the chairman, the actual potential of revenue collection in the country was not fully exploited in spite of the reforms embarked on by government and tax education by the GRA.
Dr Osman Tahidu Damba, a lecturer at the Faculty of Agribusiness at the Tamale campus of the University for Development Studies, called on tax administrators to impose effective penalties on victims of tax evasions such as unregistered businesses, deliberate tax avoidance among others.
He observed that Ghana was losing lots of revenues through tax evasions and expressed worry that “even tax officers have aided in tax evasions,” adding that evidence based improvement in social amenities and facilities such as roads, schools and hospitals was one of the ways by which government could prevent the act of tax evasions. —-GNA