President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday, called on citizens to make payment of taxes a regular predictable part of their lives as Ghanaians.
He said “The only thing we have not done is to make taxes regular predictable parts of our lives. It is time to make the payment of taxes a certainty in our society. Our tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of 14.3 percent compares unfavourably with our peers the world over.”
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) held in Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional capital.
The week-long Conference was on theme: “Ensuring an increase in revenue mobilisation through taxation for the purposes of accelerated national development: The role of the lawyer,” and brought together members of the GBA across the country.
The President said “The average tax to GDP ratio in West Africa stands at 18 percent, and indeed the recommended ratio for ECOWAS member States is at least 20 percent. The average for OECD countries is 34 percent.
“It is as no wonder that Americans, Germans, French, Japanese and British people amongst others can readily fine means to fund their own developments, particularly their infrastructural development, whereas we are constantly struggling to do the same,” he said.
The President therefore noted the urgent need to enhance Ghana’s capacity for domestic revenue mobilisation to realise the country’s development potential, create opportunity for the vibrant youth and deliver improved livelihoods for the citizenry.
“The necessity for increased mobilisation of resources for national development is crucial. It cannot no longer wait. There are critical needs in all sectors and all parts of the country,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice said unfriendly as the subject of taxation may be, it was central to national development, noting that “The payment of tax is the most basic obligation of the citizen.”
He said tax constituted one of the three pillars of revenue mobilisation, which was fundamental for satisfying the ever growing needs of the country for infrastructure and other social and economic amenities.
He said the other two pillars were industrialization, and building institutions to minimise revenue losses, adding that the rapid economic growth of Ghana should indeed increase the sizable capacity of the country and enable a much more significant share of the private sector’s resources to government in the form of taxes.
Mr Dame mentioned the Free Senior High School policy, the One District, One Factory programme, Agenda 111 Hospitals across the country, One Village, One Dam’ policy as few of the constructive purposes taxes of Ghanaians were put to, for which the business community and the citizenry had to pay the requisite amount of taxes prescribed by law.
Mr Anthony Forson Jnr, the National President of the GBA expressed gratitude to President Akufo-Addo, a fully paid up member of the GBA, “For the sustained interest he has in matters affecting the Bar, and also express our gratitude to the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.”
He reminded members of the Bar that they had a sacred duty towards society not to neglect their roles in national development, “This comes through paying our fair share of taxes and to embark on practices that will aid our clients and not to embark on practices that will aid dubious evasion and unholy tax avoidance schemes.”