The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has asked the Domestic Tax Revenue Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to take advantage of technology to implement an e-solution platform to administer taxes.
“I believe we have reached a stage in our development where we must adopt appropriate, current and improved technology to make tax administration convenient for taxpayers.
In Ghana for example, we have a population of 27 million, but tax payers only amount to 1.2 million. We are dealing with a very large informal economy, and that means the burden of taxation falls on a very small number of people. We have been thinking about ways to leverage technology to broaden this tax base so that the burden of taxation will be lowered and the collection of taxes will be enhanced,” he said.
Dr. Bawumia said this at the closing of the 38th Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA) Annual Technical Conference, in Accra. The five-day conference, which was on the theme: “Leveraging Technology to Enhance Revenue Administration”, brought together 209 participants from 18 Commonwealth countries and International Tax Organisations.
The discussion of the conference was developed around two sub topics: “Facilitating, Monitoring and Enabling Compliance through Technology and Equipping Staff with skills to deliver in an Increasingly Digital Environment.
Dr. Bawumia explained that with technology, tax administration will not only reduce the turn-around time for taxpayers to do business but will also improve service delivery.
He urged participants to be ambassadors of what technology could do and take the initiative in recommending e-solutions to deal with issues.
He said the Customs Division of the GRA, in September this year, started the implementation of a paperless clearance of goods from the ports, which is greatly helping in the GRA’s revenue mobilisation drive, ample testimony of what technology could achieve when properly leveraged.
“With effective tax administration we may not need to higher income and profit tax rates to increase revenue collections. Creating effective national tax systems from policy to administration remains our challenge.
And I believe the outcomes of this conference will move us a step up the ladder in building stronger national tax systems.”
Dr. Bawumia urged the delegates, especially those from developing parts of the Commonwealth, not to lose sight of what technology could achieve for revenue administration.
A communiqué issued at the end of the conference also underscored the need for deploying technology to maximise receipts from taxes.
Mr. Duncan Onduru, Executive Director of CATA, read the communiqué, which said the association recognised that domestic revenue mobilisation played a key role towards the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Communiqué said many member countries were undertaking or considering far reaching reforms and a modernisation agenda with the aim of improving their internal processes, systems and procedures to respond to the evolving needs of the taxpayers and changing business environment.
It said recognising the increasing importance of digitisation was a critical feature of tax administration of the Century; the Association adopted the theme of the conference.
It emphasised that investment in technology was critical to responding to the emerging business models as well as managing the cost of tax collection and improving compliance.
The Communiqué called for continuous engagement by developing countries during the implementation of tax policies and noted the critical role that digitisation would play in the current transparency in tax reporting and exchange of information among countries.
It further said the association welcomed the move towards the creation of the network of tax organisations as a viable platform for building synergies among organisations in their effort to provide service to the mutual members.
By Ekow Essabra-Mensah l thebftonline.com l Ghana