Tax Reforms: Iraqi Government Praises Dr. Olympio Kodzo Attipoe

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Dr Olympio Kodzo Attipoe
Dr Olympio Kodzo Attipoe

The Iraqi government has commended a Ghanaian International Tax Expert, Dr. Olympio Kodzo Attipoe for his contribution to the development of tax reforms in Iraq. A letter or verbal note issued by the Iraqi Prime Minister, H.E. Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani in both Arabic and German languages and dated 8th January 2024, reference V.N.7/2/10/91, noted that Dr. Attipoe’s policy or concept paper has formed the basis of the on-going tax reforms in the Arab country.

In recent years, the Iraqi government began serious efforts to embark on revenue diversification in its tax space. As part of the move, it requested policy or concept papers on tax reforms from experts from both within and outside Iraq.

Dr. Olympio Kodzo Attipoe, who is a Senior Technical Advisor or Tax Reforms with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Baghdad, Iraq, took advantage of the opportunity to join several other tax experts to present his policy paper on Wednesday, 6th December 2023 at a tax reform conference in Baghdad.

The Ghanaian International Tax Expert presented two (2) policy papers on Tax Governance and Automation as well as Tax Administration and Tax Accounting. Dr. Attipoe emerged as the only foreigner who presented policy papers at the event.
Out of the over five hundred (500) papers received by the Iraqi government, twelve (12) papers were selected. Out of these twelve (12) papers, the two (2) presented by Dr. Olympio Attipoe were selected and accepted by the Iraqi government in addition to ten (10) other papers presented by Iraqi Professors and Academics.

Dr. Attipoe’s papers were said to have generated a lot of debates on the two (2) tax handles or topics to the extent that the Iraqi government is currently using his recommendations, amongst others to develop a complete tax regulation that would ultimately guide the new tax reform agenda of the government of Iraq.

It is against this background that the Prime Minister of Iraq, H.E. Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani authorized the Foreign Minister, Mr. Fuad Hussein to write a commendation letter to the German Ambassador in Iraq, Ms. Christiane Hohmann, commending Dr. Olympio Attipoe for his immense contribution to the tax reform efforts in that country, noting that the German Government through its GIZ was privileged to have such a genius working with them in Baghdad.

Portions of the verbal note or letter dated, 08.01.2024, read, ‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq welcomes the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Baghdad and has the honor to forward the request of the Prime Minister’s Office to forward the following message to the GIZ expert, Dr. Attipoe Olympio: “H.E. the Prime Minister expressed his thanks and appreciation for your excellent efforts and active participation in the conference (reforms of the tax system in Iraq) on 06.12.2023 and wishes you an equally good approach in the future. Regards”.

Speaking with our news team in an interview at Keta in the Volta Region, Dr. Olympio Attipoe said he feels very proud as a Ghanaian for such an achievement, adding that he was highly delighted to be the only foreigner whose papers were selected in addition to the Iraqi experts.

According to him, he is excited to be contributing his quota to the development of Iraq and other countries around the globe, emphasizing that he would continue to promote and protect the image of Ghana wherever he finds himself.

Asked whether he would do the same for Ghana, Dr. Olympio Attipoe, who was a former Commissioner General of the South Sudan Revenue Authority in Juba, noted that the greatest challenge is that a prophet is never accepted or recognized in his own country. According to Dr. Attipoe, he could do the same thing for Ghana but wondered and asked whether the people at the helm of affairs were ready for such a change. ‘Are they ready to leave behind politics, tribal and the ethnicity mindset and accept professional and technical knowledge and advice as is the current case in Iraq?’, Dr. Attipoe wondered. ‘We are immersed in ethnocentric and tribal politics in Ghana to the extent that even if you are doing the right thing, they either politicize it or put you in a tribal corner’, the Ghanaian international tax expert lamented.

Touching on the tax regime in Ghana, Dr. Olympio noted that it has a lot of challenges in terms of the tax base, compliance as well as the legal framework amongst others. He noted that one of the tax policies that is negatively impacting the country’s fortunes is the excessive tax exemptions with their negative implications which according to him are political decisions.

Dr. Olympio Kodzo Attipoe is currently the Hanua of Attipoekope, a suburb of Keta in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region. He recently launched an initiative in collaboration with the people and fisher folks in the area to construct a modern market shed, a state-of-the-art place of convenience, and also ensure a serene environment at the Attipoekope lagoon landing site. He is the current Senior Technical Advisor for Tax and Revenue Administration with Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, based in Baghdad, Iraq.

Between March 2018 and August 2019, Dr. Olympio Attipoe was appointed by the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kirr Mayatdeng as the Commissioner General of the South Sudan Revenue Authority in Juba, South Sudan. He also worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of South Sudan as a Technical Specialist in the Support of Development Planning and the PFM Project from February 2011 to June 2016 in Juba, South Sudan.

Dr. Olympio Attipoe also worked as a Tax Justice Advisor with Action Aid International in Maputo, Mozambique between January and February 2013. Earlier on from October 1995 to December 2010, he worked with the then Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of Ghana, now Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) as a Senior Revenue Officer (SRO).

Dr. Olympio Attipoe has several publications to his credit. These include a Concept Paper on how to Detect Unregistered Taxpayers (July 2023), published by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur, Baghdad Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and a 2017 Article on Increasing Domestic Non-Oil Tax Revenues to Bridge the Education and Health Financing Gap.

Apart from two (2) Post Graduate Diploma certificates in Corporate Strategy and Policy as well as Managerial Economics from the Cambridge International College, United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Attipoe also holds International Masters in Business Administration (MBA) Certificate in Financial Management from the same Cambridge International College, UK. He also holds his Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) in Financial Management from the Indian Management School Research Centre and the University of Northeast, Virginia.

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