Parliament approves over GH¢553m budget for GRA
Parliament has approved the budget estimates of GH¢553.645 million for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the 2017 financial year, with a call on the authority to provide more tax offices and make them more visible to the taxpayer.
Members of the House in their contributions to the debate on the estimates also stressed that the tax agencies should heighten education on tax to get more people to honour their tax obligations.
Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, MP for Effutu, in a contribution urged the GRA to make sure that its offices are located near areas where commercial activities were high.
He said there was no tax office in the constituency capital in Winneba, or nearby Apam and taxpayers had to travel to Swedru to pay their taxes, and stressed that the authority would have to be encouraged to open more offices.
First Deputy Speaker and MP for Bekwai Constituency, Mr Joe Osei-Owusu also took the authority to task, saying that the tax office in the constituency was located in an old rickety building.
The House recognised that revenue mobilisation was key to achieving the financial estimates for the Authority.
Established by the Ghana Revenue Act 2009 (Act 791), the GRA is a single semi-autonomous public organisation that replaced the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service to centralise, coordinate and integrate the assessment, collection, accounting and administration of tax and revenue in Ghana.
According to the Report of the Finance Committee on the Estimates, for the year 2017, the Authority proposed a budget of GH¢963,070,650.29 to finance the proposed programmes and activities for the year.
On the outlook for 2017, the Report said the 2017 expenditure budget for the GRA was expected to be driven by the programmes and projects that had been planned to enhance operations and thereby improve revenue mobilisation for the year.
The Authority intends to recruit 350 additional staff in various graded in 2017 to fill positions crated through retirement, deaths and resignation among others.
It would also embark on massive tax education to improve voluntary compliance, and widen the tax net through identification and registration of new and eligible taxpayers using the GIS device.
The Authority intends to pay allowances in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) approved in 2016 as well as the Conditions of Service for Management.
The Report said the Authority has also set up a Special Task Force at the ports to augment efforts to monitor declarations and payment of important duties.
The Committee, in its report, recommended to the House to urge the Ministry of Finance to provide the necessary allocations to the Authority to enable them to undertake their operations to achieve the targeted revenue.
The House also approved the sum of GH¢4.226 billion for the activities of the Ministry of Health for the 2017 Fiscal Year, and GH¢443,921,709 for the activities of the Ministry of Transport for the 2017 fiscal Year.