Stakeholders call for structured tax system for real sector
Stakeholders in various sectors of the economy have called on the Government to have a robust and well-structured system to increase the tax contribution of small and medium enterprises and artisanal workers.
The small and medium enterprises, described as the “real” economy, are noted to drive production, purchase and flow of goods and services globally and needed an enabling environment to easily pay taxes at affordable rates to shore up the country’s revenue.
At the maiden tax forum organised in Accra, stakeholders including tax analysts, trade and agriculture sector players, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) called for the establishment of critical infrastructure to capture such players in the tax net.
Organised by Revenue Mobilisation Africa (RMA) – a not for profit organisation working to ensure effective revenue mobilization in Africa, they also asked the Government to seal loopholes in the tax system and curb corruption.
They also underscored the need for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to heighten education in rural parts of the country in an easily understanding way through local languages and psyche the minds of taxpayers for voluntary tax compliance.
Dr Alex Ampaabeng, a Tax Specialist, explained that there was more revenue to be realised from plumbers, masons, electricians and other workers who had not been formally included in the tax net.
He called for the introduction of a licensing regime that ensured that such workers who had the potential of increasing the country’s revenue through taxes “significantly” were brought into the tax system.
Dr Ampaabeng, who is the Fiscal Policy Lead at Oxfam Ghana, also asked the Government to make the citizenry have evidence of the taxes paid by distributing development equitably across the country and make tax rates affordable to all.
Dr Joseph Obeng, President of the Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA) in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the forum, reiterated the need for tax systems to affordable and fair, especially for businesses.
He said, “The tax system should bring parity and fairness, because when there’s discretion like the case of Labianca and loopholes in the system, people take advantage of it to the detriment of others.”
He also said it was important for the Government to make the payment of taxes affordable noting that: “If the taxes are not affordable, compliance is difficult. So, they should tighten the system to make it fair and affordable.”
“The Value Added Tax (VAT) as it stands now doesn’t ensure parity; while some are paying 19.5 per cent – those in the standard rate, others are paying four per cent, yet many others are not paying at all, and such system should be addressed,” Dr Obeng said.
Mr Geoffrey Ocansey, Executive Director, RMA, said it was critical for the Government to implement tax solutions that would support the growth of industries.
Mr Ocansey said when an enabling environment was created for businesses to thrive, they would not only expand but employ more Ghanaians, and contribute more to taxes.
He called on GRA to intensify its public education by collaborating with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Information Services Department (ISD) and other stakeholders to “get closer to the people through face-to-face interaction in local languages.”
“People should know why they should pay tax right from the primary schools to secondary schools and the university. By the time they start working, they’ll know the essence of paying and willingly pay.”