The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) says efforts to pass the Tax Exemption Bill, 2021 is a good step towards sanitizing the tax exemptions regime from wanton abuse.
The Authority has, therefore, welcomed the Bill and looking forward to its passage to curtail exploitations and improve revenue mobilization for national development.
Mr Michael Acheampong, Office Manager of Asokwa Taxpayer Service Centre who made the observation, said the Bill when passed into law would enhance their work as implementers of tax laws in the country.
He was speaking at a Regional Tax Dialogue on Ghana’s Exemptions Bill, 2021 in Kumasi attended by participants drawn from the Northern, Upper East, North East, Ahafo, Bono, Bono East, and Ashanti Regions.
The participants were made up of representatives from the private sector, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), entrepreneurs, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media.
The dialogue was put together by the Tax Justice Coalition, Ghana (TJCG) in collaboration with Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) with funding from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under the Ghana Revenue Programme.
It sought to build a civil society alliance for consultations and inputs on the Exemption Bill and other domestic revenue mobilization strategies in Ghana.
Mr Acheampong said the perspective of the GRA about the exemptions regime was aptly captured in the Bill which sought to coordinate various laws in that environment for efficient administration.
“We understand that the Government is always looking for avenues to optimize revenue but we also understand the critical role of exemptions in every aspect of our lives,” he pointed out.
He said much as the government needed adequate revenue to prosecute its development agenda, certain vulnerable groups needed to be protected through threshold relieves and concessions due to their low level income.
Some businesses in certain parts of the country also require tax incentives to stimulate their growth, he noted.
“I must also admit that these incentives and exemptions are also needed to support the economic agenda of the government. So there are a lot of socio-economic and political reasons for giving tax exemptions,” Mr Acheampong indicated.
The other adverse effect of the exemptions, he said, was that it eroded the tax base of the economy as a result of low level of taxes.
He said exemptions also distorted fair competition among businesses in the same industry where private projects were granted exemptions which were not available to other players of the same industry.
Mr Louis Acheampong, Coordinator of TJCG said the Coalition was part of the global advocacy network committed to ensuring that taxes and domestic revenues mobilised were appropriately utilised to enhance the development of the country.
He said Ghana had a lot of tax incentives granted by Parliament, Ministries and other authorities at different levels hence the introduction of the Exemptions Bill to bring them together to ensure proper coordination.
He noted that there were numerous exemptions granted to multinational and local companies with the aim of attracting foreign direct investments and also promoting local industries.
The dialogue, according to him, was to collate inputs of various stakeholders across the country and present to Parliament for consideration ahead of the passage of the Bill into law.