Ghana Revenue Authority holds seminar for stakeholders
Dr Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Friday appealed to staff of revenue agencies to exhibit a high sense of collective responsibility and teamwork to ensure an efficient and fair tax system.
He said under Ghana’s Tax Reform and Modernization project, government expected revenue institutions to deepen their commitment, integrity and discipline through improved processes.
These include sound corporate governance and better compliance mechanisms through modern risk management techniques to ensure success in Ghana’s tax and revenue mobilization.
Dr Duffuor made the appeal in an address read on his behalf by Mrs. Efe Simpson Ekuban, Chief Director, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, at a sensitization seminar on the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) project and Act in Accra, for management personnel of revenue agencies.
He said the project was to transform the entire revenue system in accordance with internationally accepted standards and best practice.
“The project would change the environment in which the three revenue agencies, IRS, CEPS and VAT engage businesses, individual taxpayers and the public. It entails significant review of all tax processes to make them modern and flexible,” Dr Duffuor said.
He said government was committed to the utilization of technology, under the e-Governance project, currently being operated by the Ministry of Communications to ensure the automation of all tax and revenue agencies to reduce cost, collect revenue and enforce the law efficiently.
Dr Duffuor commended the positive role played by revenue agencies over the past two decades, but said in the current challenging fiscal environment, the need for reforms and increase support for such agencies to stabilize the financial system through increase revenue collection was critical.
He explained that the GRA Act (Act 791) of 2009, which received Presidential assent on December 31, 2009, aimed at improving taxpayer service and processes in Ghana’s tax and customs offices as well as strengthen compliance by taxpayers.
The reforms, Dr Duffuor said would also involve changes to the structure of domestic tax offices and required significant staff changes and training in all revenue institutions.
The Finance Minister explained that under the GRA initiative, government had decided to consolidate the management of direct and indirect taxes, integrate the Valued Added Tax (VAT) Service and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into a single domestic tax organization.
Dr Duffuor indicated that the CEPS, would be retained as a second operational arm of the new structure and modernize the tax and customs processes under the GRA, saying the arrangement formed part of measures to reform and revitalize the country’s public financial management system.
He said GRA as an apex body, would have an appointed Commissioner-General and three Commissioners for Domestic Tax, Customs and Support Services Divisions.
Dr Duffuor said: “We should implement corporate governance as a matter of principle rather than as a response to regulations and pressure. Our manual process must give way to a modern electronic platform and must enforce the law to make the implementation of taxes fair, transparent and accessible to all”.
Mr. Seth Terkper, Deputy Minister of Finance, who gave an overview of the GRA project, said the reforms became necessary in view of various challenges such as lack of clarity of policy, administration and executive roles.
He said Ghana was lagging behind developed countries and peers, and the integration, functional administration and segmentation were considered the best practice, adding that the need to prepare revenue institutions towards the oil-era and a potentially expanded economy was also paramount.
Mr. Samuel Sallas-Mensah, Executive Secretary of Revenue Agencies Governing Board, said similar workshops and seminars would be replicated in all the regions to ensure a better understanding of the new Act, project as well as the mandate and operations of GRA to ensure effective service delivery.
He re-emphasized the need for teamwork and assured all officers of a transparent administration that would ensure no one was disadvantaged.