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GRA misses half-year target by 6.9%

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah
The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah

The total tax revenue for the half-year of 2020 was GH¢19.95 billion, as against a target of GH¢21.42 billion, representing a negative deviation of 6.9 per cent.

For the period, domestic tax collected was GH¢15.39 billion, exceeding a budgeted target of GH¢14.77 billion, while the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) collected GH¢4.55 billion, out of the GH¢6.65 billion target.

The sectors that saw significant growth over the period were mining, telecommunications and financial.

However, the GRA has said it is optimistic of meeting the GH¢42.7 billion annual collection target, in spite of the challenges it encountered in the first half of the year.

The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, who announced this at a media engagement in Accra last Friday, said: “As an authority, we cannot continue to do business as usual. We are determined as an organisation to collectively put our shoulders to the wheel as we roll out some of the policies to achieve our ‘challenge’ target of GH¢55 billion in these ‘not normal times’.”

Restructuring exercise

He said the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) of the authority had commenced the first phase of a nationwide restructuring exercise in Accra and Kumasi last August to implement some of the feedback it had received from taxpayers on improving service delivery.

“Now taxpayers will be able to file returns at the nearest taxpayer service centres (TSCs), irrespective of turnover. This will create convenience for taxpayers and free them to use their time for other productive ventures. The aim is to establish offices not on the basis of turnovers, as it was previously, but rather with respect to jurisdiction.

“At the TSCs, taxpayers can file returns, make payments, register for tax identification numbers (TIN) and tax types, make complaints, enquiries and receive tax education,” he added.


Again, the commissioner-general said, the TSCs would be supported by area offices, whose mandate would be administrative, auditing and enforcement of functions.

And as part of measures to discourage people from engaging in tax fraud, he said, his outfit, together with the Ministry of Finance, would establish a unit to serve as an audit centre of excellence to monitor and ensure quality audit across operational divisions and also investigate significant tax gaps, including cases of suspected tax evasion, avoidance and fraud.

“In this regard, we encourage you to report cases of tax fraud and tax evasion to us for investigation and reward,” Rev. Owusu-Amoah said.

With regard to the implementation of an end-to-end Customs administration system — the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) — at the ports, he said customs duties could be paid in more than five banks.

“Thankfully, the initial challenges that were encountered have been largely resolved and the objective of ensuring that we have a more efficient management and collection of customs duties and taxes is being achieved,” he said.

Technology

To leverage technology and digitalise an operation platform to power a world-class GRA, he said a number of initiatives had been rolled out, while others were at various stages of development.

“The modules in the second phase of an Integrated Tax Application and Processing System (ITaPS) have been deployed on the Ghana.gov platform, making it possible for taxpayers to file some returns and make payments online.

“Now, over 15 banks have been signed on to receive payment of taxes via the Ghana.gov platform and we are confident that by the end of the year, more banks will join us,” Rev. Owusu-Amoah said.

He said the GRA was also piloting the payment of tax via a USSD code *222#.

“The number of individuals who acquired TINs increased significantly between May and June 2020, with 1,630,900 people being registered. These numbers are being vigorously worked on to move them from just statistics in our database to taxpayers,” the Commissioner-General of the GRA said.

He said the authority had also signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Identification Authority (NIA) to provide TINs for eligible applicants, so that eventually the Ghana Card would become the only requirement for TIN registration.