The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has launched a comprehensive national tax campaign to encourage more Ghanaians to honour their tax obligations to enable the government to realise its domestic revenue targets, increase social intervention policies and accelerate development across the country.
The aggressive campaign, which will include stakeholder engagements, dawn broadcasts, social media activities, consistent media announcements, community outreach programmes, compliance and enforcementactivities, among other things, is also to help increase the number of people paying taxes from about 16 per cent of the population to be at par with the sub-regional average of 20 per cent.
In his quest to motivate the public to play a more pivotal role to ensure the success ofthe campaign, the acting Commissioner General of the GRA, Mr Kofi Nti, at the launch of the campaign in Accra yesterday, asked members of the public to bring to the notice of the GRA businesses activities within their vicinities to enable the authority to bring those businesses into the tax net for a reward.
“Even though many Ghanaians are engaged in income-earning activities, particularly in the informal sector, only about 1.2 million people are registered for tax purposes.”
“Out of the number, about one million are in the formal sector, leaving only about 200,000 in the informal sector,” he said, adding that “the result of this situation is that for a long time the contribution of the informal sector to total tax revenue has remained below five per cent, although the economy is dominated by informal sector players.”
Mr Nti said the phenomenon created a huge gap in the national kitty and stressed the need to reverse what he described as a “disturbing situation to bring as many people as possible into the tax net and help bridge the gap between public expenditures and revenues”.
He said tax mobilisation was a shared responsibility between citizens and the tax administration. "As a result, the GRA is collaborating with organisations such as the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Information Services Department (ISD) and the media to execute this campaign,” he said.
Launching the campaign, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, joined other speakers to describe tax payment as a civic responsibility that all Ghanaians must discharge.
He pointed out that for the government to discharge its duties of providing social amenities, such as free senior high school (SHS), health insurance, among others, there was the need for citizens to honour their tax obligations without fail.
Demonstrating how much more the government could raise in taxes if many more people honoured their tax obligations, he said from the pay as you earn (PAYE) of just about a million, the government raised about GH¢3 billion per annum.
Mr Ofori-Atta called for a national dialogue on the need to pay taxes to enable the country to generate its own resources and avoid looking outside for support.
He said the government had put in place many measures to protect the public purse, while working to consistently improve macro-economic indicators.
The Finance Minister asked the importing public to desist from tempting officials of the Customs Division of the GRA at the entry points and allow them to discharge their duties per their mandate.
“Do not attempt to offer them money before they work. If you do that, then you are the cause of corruption. Allow the system to work and you will be served accordingly and the state will also get what is due it,” he said.
In their messages, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation asked the government to take steps to protect the public purse as a way of encouraging people to honour their tax obligations.
The presidents of the two bodies, Nana Barimah Ofori Ameyaw and Nii Ayi Ayitey, respectively, pledged their support for the campaign and called for more resources from the government to enable the GRA to prosecute the campaign successfully.