The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has dismissed claims by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) that it disregarded recommendations to improve fire safety systems at the Large Taxpayer Office which was razed down by fire recently.
Commissioner-General of GRA, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, said the Authority was yet to see the recommendations although there was regular interaction between the two institutions.
“We have not seen the recommendations the GNFS was referring to, although we’re in regular contact. We constantly invite the fire safety authorities and even train our personnel. We have not necessarily seen the recommendations. We will work with them to make sure that lives and property are protected,” he added.
Mr Owusu-Amoah was addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday on reports that recommendations following a fire audit report on the GRA’s Head Office Annex that the Authority should enhance the fire safety systems to meet standards were not followed.
Head of Public Relations of the GNFS, DOII Mr Ellis Robinson Okoe, said that, last year, there was a fire audit report on the GRA’s Head Office Annex and the recommendations were that the Authority should enhance the fire safety systems to meet standards, but “they didn’t follow them. If they had, I believe this situation wouldn’t have even occurred”.
The Commissioner-General, however, urged the public and the GNFS to wait for reports of the investigations currently being conducted and avoid speculations which could hamper the work being done.
Although, the second floor and other parts of the facility were destroyed by the fire, he said no data of taxpayers and relevant information as well as monies were lost as circulated on social media.
Mr Owusu-Amoah reiterated that large taxpayers were required to conduct their tax businesses with the designated offices, adding that plans were far advanced to rent temporal operational offices for Large Taxpayers Office and Medium Taxpayers Office by next week.
As at the end of November this year, he said the GRA has so far raised GH₵37 billion revenue for government, saying that the Authority was on course to meet the targeted GHc45 billion by the end of the year.
Mr Owusu-Amoah explained that initiatives to enhance tax collection, including the ‘Collect, Name and Shame’ were yielding positive results as some businesses and individuals who had defaulted in the payment of their taxes were voluntarily settling the arrears.
Next year, he said, the GRA would launch a digitised platform for easy and convenient payment processes for taxpayers.
“Currently, the processes involve writing of tax invoices. People avoid writing those invoices and present false invoices to the Authority. This is one of the major practices that set us back in our attempt to meet revenue target.
“Hopefully, the digitised processes will be introduced next year to curb such malpractices. The tax laws are clear, the taxes are also available to be collected. What we need now is an efficient collection system to rake in all the revenue government needs,” Mr Owusu-Amoah said.
Additionally, he said the GRA was exploring e-commerce tax, stamp duty, capital gains tax, among others, which provides many avenues to widen the tax net and improve revenue collection.
He noted that the GRA would also intensify prosecution of defaulting taxpayers and enforce tax laws, including publication of names to deter people from breaking the laws.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS