Henceforth, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will prosecute anyone who defaults in the payment of taxes in the country.
This follows the launch of the prosecution policy document of the authority, here on Tuesday.
With the launch of the prosecution policy document, the Commissioner General of the Authority, Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said “GRA is giving all income earning persons, potential and existing recalcitrant taxpayers the opportunity to amend their ways and become compliant.”
He said it was for this reason that “we have intensified our public education sensitization programmes to deepen awareness of various topical tax issues on the need to be tax complaint to avoid any infractions of the laws which may lead to GRA initiating prosecutions.”
Mr Nti encouraged the general public, especially income earning persons to be well acquainted with their obligations under the tax laws and the prosecution policy document to be well guided to prevent any infractions.
But, the Supervisory High Court Judge of the Ashanti Region, Justice Kossi Efo Kaglo, urged the Authority to go a step further to give further education to the prosecutors to avoid connivance with offenders.
“From practice, sometimes those prosecuting are those who encourage the defence of prosecution, they connive or join forces with those they are prosecuting in order to open up avenues by which the offender can easily have his/her way out,” he said.
According to Justice Kaglo, this took place especially when the prosecutors came into contact with prosecuting corporate offenders than of individuals, stressing that the corporate offenders easily lured the prosecutors into their back adding “the prosecutors, instead of coming to court to lay bare the elements of offence committed, sometimes come to court behaving as if they do not know what they have come to do at the court.”
The Supervisory High Court Judge said judges were ready to support the prosecution policy document to ensure Ghana beyond Aid became a reality “but GRA still have a stake in educating the prosecutors to know the sections or articles of the law under which they bring someone as an accused person to make it easy for the judge to give a verdict in favor of the prosecution.”
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, in a speech read on his behalf, was full of praise for GRA in joining the league of tax administrators that were open and transparent about prosecution policies as far as tax issues were concerned.
Mr Simon Osei Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister, said the policy of Ghana Beyond Aid could not be realized if GRA could not widen its tax net and ensure effective revenue collection and other forms of revenues.
He was of the view that increasing revenue generation was an essential ingredient and of paramount significance in the realisation of Ghana beyond aid.
Madam Adelaide Ahwering, a board member of GRA, who chaired the function said, “the public should know that the time when people earning income and supposed to pay tax when existing potential taxpayers could blatantly refuse to pay tax and go free will now be a thing of the past, GRA has declared a zero tolerance toward non-compliance tax evasion, tax and customs fraud on the part of perpetrators of such crimes.”
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI