Revenue collectors of the Nkoranza South Municipal Assembly in the Brong Ahafo Region are capitalising on the people’s ignorance to enrich themselves by inflating approved rates by as high as 300 percent.
Sources say the revenue collectors not only swindle the people but also divert a chunk of the taxes they collect, thereby denying the assembly much-needed funds for development.
For instance, the approved rate of a permit to site a kiosk in the municipality is GH¢40 – but the tax collectors charge unsuspecting applicants GH¢150 or more.
The situation has been fuelled by deficiencies in the system and recruitment of political party loyalists (depending on the incumbent political party) as tax collectors, hence the Assembly’s inability to crack the whip on revenue looters.
This has taken a huge toll on the Internally Generated Funds (IGF) of the Nkoranza Municipal Assembly. According to the 2017 Auditor-General’s report, the IGF to total revenue of the Assembly was just 9.8% – making it one of the poorest IGF mobilisers in the country.
The assembly has had to rely heavily on the District Assemblies Common Fund and District Development Fund (DDF) to finance development projects.
At a stakeholders’ workshop organised by the Conservative Hair Dressers Association at Nkoranza, a number of small business operators expressed worry over how they are being cheated on a daily basis by the assembly’s revenue collectors.
The hairdressers and other artisans who were present at the workshop were scandalised when assembly officials announced the official rates. Madam Francisca Fosuaa, a hairdresser, said: “Six years ago I paid GH¢150 as permit fee for my container, but here we are being told the official rate is GH¢40. Again, the annual assembly fee is also GH¢40 – but I have always been paying GH¢45”.
It also came to light at the meeting that the assembly’s failure to go after tax defaulters has emboldened many other otherwise compliers to also default.
Chairman of the Nkoranza Garages Association, Jerry Adjei, indicated that the assembly and, for that matter the State, has not been doing much to encourage people to pay their taxes, saying: “If my colleague defaults and goes unpunished, nothing will compel me to pay again”.
Responding to the issues in an interview with B&FT, Presiding Member of the Nkoranza South Municipality, Kwame Adu-Gyamfi, said the current state of IGF mobilisation in the area is hampering development – especially infrastructure. He said, henceforth, the assembly will take pragmatic steps to check revenue leakage and intensify public education about the need for people to pay their taxes.
A lecturer at the School of Business and Law, University for Development Studies (UDS) – Dr. John Yaw Akparep, advised Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to conduct broader consultations by involving all relevant stakeholders in the process of fee-fixing to ensure transparency and to clear all public misconceptions about their revenue operations.
He said: “Taxpayers like hairdressers and barbers will make greater impact on business development when given the opportunity to participate in fee-fixing decisions. They will agree upon fees fixed and comply to pay”.