By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA
Accra, April 05, GNA – Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, on Thursday disclosed that the future of Ghana and other developing countries depend on the quantum of taxes they are able to raise domestically to support development.
According to him, no nation had ever developed by depending solely on the benevolence of others. “Aid must be a supplement to our domestic efforts,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta was speaking at the opening of a two-day conference on Moving Beyond-Aid-Revenue Mobilisation G20-Compact with Africa (CWA), organised by the Ministry of Finance, the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in Accra.
He said it was critical for developing countries to set up tax systems that helped to raise tax revenue and create a positive investment environment.
He acknowledged however that achieving this was fraught with challenges; which governments including Ghana, had to tackle.
These include broadening the tax base, improving efficiency in revenue administration and blocking tax revenue leakages, harnessing technology to modernize and improve efficiency in tax administration and tax policy formulation and analysis, fighting illicit financial flows and restoring credibility between taxpayers and governments.
In Ghana, for instance, while “estimates point to the existence of about six million potential individual taxpayers in Ghana, only about 1.5 million are formally registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority.
“Of this number 1.36 million are employees, implying that most self-employed individuals are not registered with the Authority.”
Mr. Ofori-Atta said Ghana has put in measures to enhance domestic resource mobilisation such as review of tax laws, rationalization of taxes and introduction of an automated system (tripsTM) for domestic revenue.
He said the government recognises that the on-going paperless for trade taxes, among others, will be a gradual and challenging process.
He said government had begun consultations with key stakeholders on the need to mobilise more revenue and intend to present a package of tax policies to Parliament, in the mid-year review of the budget to ensure sustained funding for Ghana’s development projects.
“So I charge all of us to give our taxes to Caesar; to rise up to our civic responsibilities, building nation and achieving our vision of moving Ghana beyond aid,” he said, referencing the Biblical story in Mathew 22:21, where Jesus tells his disciples to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God, what is God’s.
Mr Kingsley Yaw Amoako, Founder and President of ACET, noted that revenue mobilisation was central to the success of the Compact with Africa (CWA), launched last year under the German government’s G20 presidency.
“As we all know, revenue mobilization in most developing countries is not keeping pace with development goals or increasing fiscal pressures. This issue is of paramount importance for Ghana and its long term development strategy, as well as for all other developing countries,” he said.
Mr Amoako noted that learning from each other would greatly increase the probability of achieving success.