Import duties underperform - GH¢4.16bn earned in 6 months, down 1.92%

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Ken Ofori-Atta — Minister of Finance

Revenue generated from taxes on goods imported yielded some GH¢4.16 billion in the first half of this year.

This is against a target of GH¢4.24 billion, a shortfall of GH¢81.50 million which represents 1.92 per cent.

The development is in spite of the partial reversal of the discount (benchmark) policy.

Due to this, the government has revised the revenue target for taxes on international trade from the initial annual projection of GH¢9.03 billion to GH¢8.57 billion in the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review released last week.

From the revenue side, data from the fiscal policy review indicated that the lower-than-targeted outcome reflected the performance of almost all the revenue lines.

“Total revenue and grants consisting of domestic revenue, tax revenue and other major revenue lines produced lower than projected, after yielding GH¢37.8 billion in the first half of the year, from the target of GH¢43.4 billion,” it said.

“This mirrors a trend that has bedevilled the economy since the beginning of this year,” the revised fiscal policy said.

The fiscal policy review showed that the revenue targets for the year had been revised from GH¢100.5 billion to GH¢96.84 billion, as captured in the Mid-Year Budget review, which also cut expenditure slightly from GH¢135.6 billion to GH¢133.84 billion.

Budget presentation

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in the presentation of the mid-year budget, indicated that the government would seek the necessary approvals from Parliament to introduce new revenue measures.

He said the government would introduce the penalty and interest waiver policy and suspend the quarterly income tax installment payments by individuals using the income tax stamp system and some categories of vehicles under the vehicle income tax sticker scheme for the period ending June 2022.

He said in the light of current economic challenges, the government had decided to further extend these measures until the end of 2022.

“Mr Speaker, the digital economy presents a potentially untapped source of revenue as it continues to witness an increase in activities compared to a decrease in transactions by traditional brick-and-mortar industries,” he said.

He said the ministry, in conjunction with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), had reviewed the various enactments relating to taxation of e-commerce, betting and gaming, to align them with current trends.

Amendment proposals

The minister said the government would in due course, submit the proposed amendments to these laws to Parliament for consideration and passage.

“Mr Speaker, Value added tax (VAT) compliance has traditionally been a challenge due to the largely informal nature of transactions in the economy. Quite a number of importers, though registerable for VAT, are currently not in the GRA database,” he said.

According to him, to promote compliance, the government will impose a penalty equivalent to the VAT these non-registered persons are required to charge on their goods, payable at the ports of entry.

He said such importers would, however, be permitted to recover these payments when they registered and filed their VAT returns. The implementation start date for this policy has been slated for October 1, 2022.

“Mr Speaker, aside from Income Tax, VAT continues to be the most prolific tax handle for domestic revenue mobilisation.

“The manual systems being used by our traders make monitoring and revenue assurance difficult and unwieldy,” he said.

He added that during the fourth quarter of 2022, an electronic invoicing system (e-VAT) would be rolled out to enable GRA to have a real-time view of VAT - related transactions for the collection of the tax.