Mr. Benjamin Boakye, the Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has made a passionate appeal to Ghanaians to make it a habit to pay tax as a civic responsibility towards the development of the country.
He said available information shows that those who pay tax are in the minority, calling for the status quo to be reversed.
He said it has become important for citizens to be fully engaged in supporting the laws and administrative practices that deal with the challenges of tax revenue collection in the country.
Mr. Boakye made the appeal when his outfit launched a new digital platform to help encourage tax compliance among the citizenry.
Christened, “Opentaxghana,” the platform seeks to promote voluntary compliance on the part of the public by providing tax education and tax law enforcement through the cooperation of the citizenry.
The new platform, GhanaNewsOnline.com.gh has established, was designed in collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), to increase domestic tax revenue for sustainable socio-economic development.
He said through the platform, the gaps that allow tax evasion system loophole to occur could be identified, blocked and addressed as it provided opportunity for the public to share experiences on practices that deprive the state of tax revenue.
The “Opentaxghana,” has a whistle-blower section that enabled people to anonymously report tax evasion schemes. Commenting on the whistle-blower section, Mr. Boakye said the whistle-blower already protected under the Whistle-blower Act, 2006 (Act 720) and would be rewarded with 10 % of tax revenues that the GRA would successfully recover following tax evasion reporting.
The Executive Director of the Energy Think Thank said the platform also improves transparency and accountability by providing information to citizens on government revenue trends and how these are utilized, adding the public can also determine their tax obligations with assistance from the platform.
Mr. Boakye said it has come to light that tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio was about 15.4 % in 2016 was an indication that Ghanaians were demanding more from the government than they contributed when it comes to tax.
The Executive Director noted that there was a bigger challenge with regards to collection of tax from the country’s rather large informal sector which needed to be addressed without delay.
Available information gathered by this reporter indicates that about 1.2 million Ghanaians are documented taxpayers, out of which only 200,000 come from the informal sector. He called on tax authorities to address the challenges of tax revenue mobilization in the informal sector.
A Senior Revenue Officer at the Communication and Public Affairs Department of GRA, Mrs Anita Naadu Anaba-Ania, lauded the initiative and said her outfit would soon roll out programs to create awareness on the need for all Ghanaians to see paying of tax as a civic responsibility. She disclosed that the GRA was putting in measures to strengthen its tax operations in the country.
Source: Adovor Nutifafa