We need to collect more taxes
The developmental needs of every country require that enough funds be raised to ensure sufficient funding of state infrastructure for the comfort of citizens.
In view of the large overall financing needs for sustainable development, states adopt various means to mobilise funds to finance their activities.
The mobilisation of domestic public resources is mainly from national tax systems, principally income and import taxes, which state institutions are tasked to collect every year. In least developed countries, for example, possibilities for mobilising domestic resources are limited.
Being the foundation of every nation, tax collection has seen improvement in many countries. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, the measures put in place have not been enough to mobilise enough domestic funds to meet their needs, forcing them to turn to borrowing.
In Ghana, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), with its various agencies, has, over the years, led the revenue collection drive and contributed significantly to getting the funds which have enabled the state to fund its projects and programmes.
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Any time that the GRA is unable to meet its target, therefore, the country has to find alternative means to finance some of its projects. It is for this reason that the Daily Graphic notes with satisfaction news that the Northern and Ashanti sectors of the Customs Division of the GRA exceeded their revenue targets for 2018.
Speaking at an interaction with journalists in Tamale and Kumasi, officials of the authority disclosed that while the Northern Sector exceeded its target by over 144 per cent, the Ashanti Sector exceeded its by over 12 per cent last year.
No doubt, this contributed to the GRA achieving a 3.9 per cent increase in import revenue at the end of the 2018 calendar year when total import revenue increased from about GH¢12.7 billion in 2017 to GH¢13.2 billion at the end of 2018.
The Daily Graphic congratulates the GRA on its achievement. We believe the feat by the Northern and the Kumasi sectors was attained through hard work and the institution of measures by those sectors and we urge them to share their success stories and how they were achieved with the other sectors, so that they can be replicated in other areas for them to also reap in more revenue for the state for its programmes.
We note the current status of Ghana as a lower middle-income country, which places a lot more responsibility on us to generate enough revenue for our development projects. But we have still not been able to generate enough, in spite of our attempts at tax reforms.
The Daily Graphic, therefore, urges the government to do all it can to widen the tax net to rope in others who earn incomes but are not contributing much to the national effort.
Most of the time, employees in the formal sector have borne the brunt of having to pay income tax because, take it or leave it, the taxes are deducted before their monthly emoluments hit their account.
We are happy to note the decision of the Kumasi Command to begin night duties from next month to track people who engage in economic activities to pay taxes.
We believe one way the tax net can be widened also is by working towards a cashless economy where payments will be made using various credit cards. We think with the introduction of the national identification card, we can gradually migrate to an era when purchases and transactions can be traced for the necessary taxes to be paid.
The GRA can also make effective use of trader associations to collect more taxes from businesses.
This will help the country embark on more development projects and programmes with funds from that have no strings and conditions attached.
It is only through this that we can develop in freedom.