We’ll prosecute tax defaulters- Finance Ministera legal expert

Some of the participants at the congress. Photo Victor A.Buxton

Some of the participants at the congress. Photo Victor A.Buxton

The government has challenged the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to increase its tax revenue to 15 per cent from the estimated 13.9 per cent for this year.

Currently Ghana’s tax revenue hovers around 13.1 per cent which is far below the average of 20 per cent for lower middle income countries.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta said this yesterday in a speech read on his behalf at the second National Delegates Congress of the Ghana Revenue Authority Workers Union (GRAWU) at Winneba in the Central Region.

The three-day congress, which was under the theme “Widening the tax net to achieve Ghana beyond Aid -The role of labour,” had about 150 delegates drawn from across the country.

Mr Ofori-Atta said customs revenue grew abysmally 3.9 per cent in 2018 instead of an expected growth of 27.7 per cent.

He indicated that the success or failure of the President’s vision of a Ghana beyond Aid largely depended on the performance of the authority’s revenue mobilisation.

“For three consecutive years, GRA has failed to meet set revenue targets and this has resulted in a cumulative shortfall of GH¢4,894.64 million.

“This is of great concern, especially as we have had to resort to borrowing and in some instances cut expenditure in order to make up for those shortfalls,” he said.

The Minister of Finance reiterated government’s intention to move from administrative penalties to the prosecution of tax evasion.

He said crimes such as under valuation of import values, ex-warehousing of imports without payment of the required customs duties, non-issuance of VAT receipts and diversion of transit goods would be prosecuted.

“These negative acts thrive only when you GRA staff collude and connive with taxpayers or turn a blind eye or neglect your duty. Government will not spare both GRA staff and taxpayers found culpable,” he added.

To achieve the government’s target, Mr Ofori-Atta charged GRA staff to act as true revenue professionals whose loyalty was only to their employer and collectively commit to plugging all revenue leakages as well as generate sufficient funds to support government’s development agenda.

The Commissioner General of GRA, Emmanuel Kofi Nti on his part called for a sustained education and sensitisation on the need for the citizenry to honour their tax obligation.

He said the authority would continue to “name and shame” tax defaulters as well as prosecute tax debtors adding that the success or otherwise of the authority depended on the collective efforts of management and labour.

Mr Nti said the expectation of management was that “members of GRAWU will continue to work harder and more diligently to facilitate the achievement of this year’s accelerated target of GH¢49.40 billion.”

From Jemima Esinam Kuatsinu, Winneba

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