Natural resource endowed country, Ghana can attain ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ status if the government fixed the ambiguities in the country’s tax regime, this is according to Louis Acheampong, Vice Chair of the Tax Justice Coalition, Ghana.
Speaking exclusively to News Ghana on the side lines of a capacity building workshop for journalists recently in Accra, he explained that the country is inundated with a number of sectoral laws, especially in the extractive sector which are contrary to the general laws as stipulated in the Ghana Revenue Act (GRA).
This makes the cocoa growing and oil producing West African country lose millions of dollars in tax revenue therefore denying government the needed funds to create job opportunities, provide social infrastructure as well as meet other interventions in the country hence becoming an impediment to realising the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ vision.
Acheampong said, “We have the Ghana Revenue Act and the laws that govern the Ghana Revenue Authority’s activities and then you take the mining sector and there is also a mining law and then the tax component that is stated in the mining law is different from what is stated in the general law. It brings a lot of confusion and contradiction and affects the efficient delivery, implementation and enforcement.
Sometimes there are few contradictions; we have sectoral laws that kind of take precedence over the national law. Taxation in Ghana is critical and even as our current governmental strategy is talking about ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’, Ghana can only become independent economically if we are able to improve our domestic revenue mobilization.”
He urged the government to take a second look at some of the tax laws in the country and ensure consistency.
“Government should take a second look at the efficient enforcement of the regulations and the laws in the sector and also bridge the gaps. These things will have to be revised so that what is in the general law reflects what is in the sectorial law and then we can enforce as appropriate because Ghana has lost millions of dollars because of some of these ‘minor errors’ which is an oversight.
The laws are made for the people and not the people for the laws so if its implementation is not favouring and is not encouraging, government should have the courage to review as immediately as possible so that the contracts in the extractive sector and other taxation related regimes would reflect the appropriate laws and Ghana will gain more than now focusing on direct investments and motivation for international investments,” Acheampong stated.
Ghana is said to have lost some 9 billion United States Dollars (USD) between three to five years in the extractive sector, this is according to a study conducted by the Tax Justice Coalition (TJC-Ghana) and Action Aid Ghana (AAG).
The Tax Justice Coalition Vice Chair observed the rebate given to mining firms in the extractive sector is worrying as the practice has been a bane on the socio-economic development of the country.
He said, “If you look at the extractive sector for instance, there are a number of companies that are actively producing in Ghana huge sums but do not pay tax because they have rebate on some concessions that they are enjoying and that affects the country.”
Acheampong urged journalists to increase their understanding in taxation and financial management issues so as to investigate and report as appropriate for citizens to be well-informed to demand accountability from their leaders.
The Tax Justice Coalition, Ghana, is a civil society group that brings together organizations and individuals that are working in the financial and economic sector in the country and also focussing on taxation on domestic revenue mobilization related issues.
The Coalition looks at accountability and anti-corruption including tax evasion and others that are not helpful for the country.
It is hosted by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) in Accra at the national level but its membership cuts across the country. Enditem