The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has urged staff of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), both individually and collectively, to commit to plugging all revenue leakages to ensure generation of sufficient funds in support of the government’s development agenda.
“I charge you to act as true revenue professionals whose loyalty is to your employer only.
In three consecutive years, GRA has failed to meet set revenue targets, resulting in a cumulative shortfall of GH¢4.9 million,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta made the call in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Daniel Nuer, the Head of Tax Unit at the Ministry of Finance, at the opening of the Second National Delegates Congress of the GRA Workers’ Union (GRAWU) in Winneba in the Central Region.
The three-day event is on the theme: 'Widening the Tax Net to Achieve Ghana Beyond Aid — The Role of Labour.'
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Mr Ofori-Atta said the shortfall “was of great concern especially as we have had to resort to borrowing and in some instances cut expenditure to make up for the shortfalls”.
He reiterated government’s determination to move from administrative penalties to the prosecution of tax evaders.
He said crimes such as under-valuation of import duties, ex-warehousing of imports without payment of the required customs duties, non-issuance of VAT receipts and diversion of transit goods would be prosecuted.
“These negative acts thrive only when you GRA staff collude and connive with taxpayers or turn a blind eye or neglect your duty. The government will not spare both GRA staff and taxpayers found culpable,” he said.
He said for this year, the GRA had been tasked to grow tax revenue contribution to the national economy from 13.1 per cent realised in 2018 to 15 per cent.
The minister said the government indicated in the 2019 budget statement that revenue mobilisation strategies would focus on reforming revenue institutions, intensifying compliance measures and sustaining the broadening of the tax net.
He urged the members of GRAWU therefore to use the congress to produce innovative ideas that would help achieve the 15 per cent tax-to-GDP ratio for 2019.
The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Nti, said the authority would continue to “name and shame” tax defaulters and also prosecute them.
“Ghana Beyond Aid is achievable if we all put our shoulders to the wheel, engage taxpayers with integrity and resolve not to compete with our employer for the resources that rightly belong to the State,” he said.
The Paramount Chief of the Efutu Traditional Area, Neenyi Ghartey VII, who chaired the event said he was hopeful that the workers and management of GRA would improve their performance and become more committed to improving their efforts in revenue mobilisation.
Members attending the Second National Delegates Congress of GRAWU are taking stock of achievements and failures of the workforce and will map out strategies for the years ahead.