Ghana Needs Taxes To Sustain Middle Income Status -Terkper

Minister of Finance-Seth Terkper, has stated that the attainment of a middle income status has brought in its wake a huge challenge that makes it difficult for government to contract concessionary loans to prosecute the development agenda of the country.

According to him, the time has, therefore, come for government to generate resources from within its internal sources, hence the need for the untaxed segment of the population to be brought into the tax net.

Mr. Terkper pointed out that the nation cannot underestimate the role of taxes in the lives of the people, no matter how unpopular it may sound, adding that taxation is the price people pay to live in civilized societies.

The Minister explained that it was against this backdrop that government is introducing the new Income Tax Act, 2015, (Act 896) to progressively expand the tax base, widen the tax net and rope in people earning income, but are currently outside the tax net.

He noted, however, that it was not the intention of government to unduly burden Ghanaians with excess taxes, but to raise the required revenue to meet the ever increasing legitimate demands of the people.

Finance Minister Seth Terkper

Mr. Terkper made the statement in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy, Mrs. Mona Quartey, at the opening of a three day national retreat of the management staff of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in the Volta Regional capital of Ho, under the theme; “The Implementation Status of the Strategic Plan 2015-2017 Operational Plans, The Way forward”.

Mr. Terkper explained that in spite of the cogent reasons for the recent tax policy measures, government was unaware of the concerns and criticisms of the public arising out of the implementation of these tax policies, it has therefore taken steps to address those concerns.

He said for instance, that government has sent proposals to the Speaker of Parliament to withdraw the one percent tax on interest for individuals and reduce to 7.5 percent the withholding tax on services, which was increased to 15 percent.

The Minister has therefore appealed to the GRA to deepen its educational activities to ensure that it interacts often with taxpayers and receive their concerns to enable government incorporate them into its policy making, stressing the need to carry the public along for them to appreciate the need to contribute more to government purse.

Mr. Terkper also asked GRA to work hard to block leakages in tax collection in the country, especially in areas such as tax evasion by sections of the public, perceived corruption by officials, poor awareness of tax laws and increase awareness for the implementation of the new Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896).

The Commissioner General of the GRA, George Blankson commended the staff and management of his outfit for exceeding the revenue target of GH¢ 21.57 billion, saying at the end of 2015, a total of GH¢22.17 billion was collected, indicating a growth of GH¢5, 024billion.

Mr. Blankson attributed the reasons for the achievement of the revenue target for 2015 to effective strategies adopted by management, which include increasing the number of audits, regular external visits and inspection of taxpayers businesses to retrieve outstanding taxes, roping in many operators from the informal sector, monitoring by the operational offices and the great work done by the Revenue Task Force.

The GRA Commissioner said having completed and evaluated the first strategic plan in 2012-2014, GRA successfully put in place the second strategic plan 2015-2017 and the three day retreat would review the status of the projects of the plan from which operational plans would be derived for effective revenue collection in 2016.

He disclosed that GRA for 2016, has earmarked a total of GH¢ 27.59 billion, which has been broken as follows; GH¢ 11.513 billion-domestic tax and GH¢ 5.916 billion-domestic indirect tax.

Out of the figure, he said Customs Division is expected to generate GH¢ 10.159 billion, urging all staff to prepare for the task ahead to ensure that the target would be met at the end of the year.

The Board Chairman of GRA, Mr. Ralph Tufour noted that revenue mobilization would not be successful if there was no collaboration between the taxpayer and other relevant stakeholders and called on the revenue organization to persuade tax payers and stakeholders through stakeholder education and engagement rather than through compulsion.

Mr. Tufour assured the management and staff of GRA that the Board was closely working with top management and the Ministry of Finance to ensure that policies do not demoralize any one of them or make them worse off noting that the staff, particularly opinion leaders should ensure that there is peace on the labour front.

The Paramount Chief of the Kpenoe Traditional Area, Togbe Kotoku XI called for the introduction of tax payment education at both basic and second cycle institutions across the country to ensure that children cultivate the habit of tax payment from childhood and when they grow; they would not depart from it and contribute meaningfully towards national development.

From Samuel Agbewode, Ho

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