The West Africa Tax Forum, which seeks to bring the various countries in the sub-region, to share their experiences and explore ways to improve domestic revenue mobilization opened in Accra on Thursday.
The three-day forum is being held from May 2-4, 2012, is jointly organised by the African Tax Institute (ATI) and the International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC) with support from the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and hosted by the Ghana Revenue Authority.
More than 120 delegates from West Africa and Central Africa, Europe and the United States of America, drawn from the academia, private and public sector and the business community are attending the conference.
Speaking at the opening session, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said in the face of global recession, it was imperative that developing countries find innovative ways of moblilising domestic revenue.
He said to strengthen tax administration and improve capacity at generating more domestic resources , the Ghanaian government was embarking on an integration to bring together the three main revenue agencies to form the Ghana Revenue Authority.
Mr Kwetey said with the inauguration of the Authority, the country now has a holistic approach to deal with tax and customs issues with a well defined command structure.
He said: “We envisage in the long-term that these reforms would make for effective and efficient collection of tax revenue and ensure greater transparency, accountability and integrity.”
Mr Kwetey called on the participants to take serious note of challenges confronting indirect taxation, and suggest vital solutions in achieving maximum growth in tax collection.
He said: “To be able to achieve this, we need clear tax policy criteria. We need coordination of tax policies, administrative procedures, structures and definitions.”
Mr Kwetey asked the participants to explore ways to effectively deal with challenges of the tax system, low voluntary compliance and transfer pricing, among others.
Mr George Blankson, the Commissioner-General for the Ghana Revenue Authority, said the forum provided a good opportunity to discuss indirect taxation, which is of importance to the fiscal systems of low and middle income countries.
Participants would also share experiences on how best they could coordinate indirect taxes between member countries in common markets, such as the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), discuss tax policies and their implementation and suggest best ways of dealing with natural resource and corporate taxation.