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Govt urged to invest more to build strong tax infrastructure

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Dr Alex Ampaabeng,Tax Specialist at Oxfam Ghana
Dr Alex Ampaabeng,Tax Specialist at Oxfam Ghana

A Tax Specialist at Oxfam Ghana, Dr Alex Ampaabeng, has called for increased investments in the country’s tax infrastructure to make it more robust and efficient.

He said that was the only way the government could rake in reasonable, substantial and sustainable revenue from the various tax segments.

At a media engagement by the civil society organisation (CSO) budget forum ahead of the mid-year budget review in Accra on July 7, 2022, he said taxation should not be regarded as an emergency.

“We have to be more serious with taxation by developing the necessary infrastructure to collect what is due the state all year round rather than seeing taxes as an emergency thing,” he said.

The media engagement sought to share insights from the forum’s monitoring of the 2022 budget implementation for the first half of the 2022 fiscal year.

 

Property tax

Dr Ampaabeng noted, for instance, that property tax offered a huge a potential to improve the revenue generation in the country judging from the kind of properties that had sprung up in Accra, Kumasi and other cities.

He said unlike the Eurozone where property tax alone accounted for four per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP), Africa got only 0.38 per cent, adding that in Ghana only nine per cent of properties in the country were captured for tax purposes.

“So, where are the remaining 91 per cent? Meanwhile, we have been having population and housing census. We have been collecting all the data and now we have digitised address systems so what prevents us from leveraging it,” he quizzed.

He said municipal assemblies needed to be better resourced and empowered to collect property taxes while the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) focused on formal and informal sector taxes.

Dr Ampaabeng said it was important to ensure that the data collected through the digitised addresses were kept well and utilised for tax purposes.

“Once you have a standard valuation, it will be much easier for people to be able to log into their property account to see if they have paid their taxes or they have outstanding arrears,” he said.

 

CSO budget forum

The Africa Programme Officer at the Natural Resource and Governance Institute (NRGI), Denis Gyeyir, said the CSOs had made a number of proposals for consideration in the extractive, fiscal, education and health sectors.

Speaking on the ‘Critical Reforms Required for Sustainable Economic Recovery,” the Policy Lead, Climate Change and Energy Transition at Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Charles Gyamfi Ofori, said a restructuring of the energy and extractive sectors was urgently needed to transform and resolve the challenges faced within the economy.

“Addressing challenges such as high fuel cost, decisions on gas imports, investment attraction in the upstream oil sector, energy sector debt accumulation, institutional inefficiency and deepening public participation could free resources for the development and realignment of government priorities towards growth,” he said.