The Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has asked the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG) to lead the charge in getting other professional bodies to honour their tax obligations.
“The people are clamouring for better roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and the like but are not willing to fulfil their tax obligations for the government to meet their demands. This must change, and the change must start with you and I.
“We expect that the people will all rise to the occasion and do the needful; we must also bring our professional fraternity on board to ensure that we receive sufficient revenue to create more opportunities for growth and development. A whole institute exists for that purpose and some of you have acquired the certification to act as tax consultants,” he added.
Dr. Bawumia made the call in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of National Security, Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah, at the ICAG’s presidential luncheon in Accra.
Dr. Bawumia further reminded the people that the government depended on duties and taxes to develop infrastructure and other sectors of the economy.
“As the President recently alluded to, professionals have been found to have flouted the law on the payment of taxes. They, more than any group of taxpayers, have the tendency of under-declaring their earnings on bonuses and the likes and, therefore, have not made significant contribution to the tax net over the years,” he said.
“This is a matter of concern because many of us have always had the impression, or so we were made to believe, that it was large informal sector workers who were escaping the tax net. It turns out that it is rather us professionals (accountants, lawyers, medical doctors and other licensed bodies) who are the weak link in the tax value chain. Let us be frank and take stock without being defensive with rhetorics,” the Vice-President added.
He said what made tax evasion by professionals difficult was the challenge in tracking their revenue records, which were often inadequately kept, just as was the case with business proprietors.
According to Dr. Bawumia, rigorous measures would be implemented by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to plug the loopholes and the escape hatches that professionals deployed to deprive the country of the much needed revenue for development.
“Sometimes fixing this country begins with all of us fixing our unethical behaviour first. The government expects that you join the drive of mass education to ensure that while digitisation is being deployed to enhance tax collection, advocacy will also be employed to create awareness and elicit the appropriate response from potential taxpayers,” he said.
The Vice-President further said digitisation and innovations in public administration were enhancing access to the delivery of public services.
“Let us remind ourselves that the ongoing digitisation in many areas of economic activities and public administration is not a witch-hunting exercise to destroy jobs or undermine the public sector.
“The goal is to improve efficiency and improve productivity in the way we manage public resources to ensure greater accountability and efficiency,” he said.