GNCCI engages GRA on tax issues

Photo Credit: Joseph Ahadzi, GNCCI                                                      

A delegation from the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI) on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Emmanuel Kofi Nti, at his office in Accra.

The visit was to engage the GRA on key tax issues affecting businesses, explore areas of collaboration to improve tax administration, and commend the leadership for work done so far.

In his remarks, GNCCI’s president, Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso, commended Mr. Nti and his team for the improvements in port operations following implementation of the paperless system. The president also commended the GRA’s cooperation in implementing recommendations of the Chamber’s advocacy on streamlining the duty drawback process.

He added that the timely response in paying overdue duty drawback, and significant efforts in addressing technical challenges, have improved confidence in the process. He also lauded the GRA’s cooperation in implementing the Certificate of Origin.

The GRA, he said, “should recognise the GNCCI as a partner in informing, educating, training its members on tax issues and policies of GRA; including tax holidays, tax waivers, and tax violations”.

In this regard, he noted that signing a cooperation agreement with the GRA on areas of collaborations and interventions for SME members will be a step in the right direction.

Despite implementation of the paperless ports system, Nana Dankawoso lamented that some GRA staff still request hard copy documents.

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Among other things, he complained of delays at the old scan section, which he said has only one senior chemist serving about three terminals; and that the GRA should collaborate with banks to aid payment and collection of taxes in order to minimise time spent visiting its offices to make payments and file returns.

He further pointed out that there is a lack of awareness on tax incentives for businesses which provide mentorship for business start-ups, internships and employment.

The delegation led by Nana Dankawoso comprised Clement Osei Amoako (1st Vice-President, GNCCI); Mr. Mark Badu Aboagye (CEO, GNCCI); Isaac Barry (Chairman, Tema Chamber of Commerce & Industry); Wilson Atta Krofah (Council Member & former President, GNCCI); Julius Bradford Lamptey (Head, Research & Advocacy, GNCCI); and Cynthia Mensa (Special Assistance to the President, GNCCI).

Meanwhile, Wilson Atta Krofah – the Chamber’s Council Member and former President, grieved about the prevailing VAT regime. He indicated that the 3% flat rate VAT review is negatively impacting businesses, since it does not allow for transfer of the 17.5% VAT to the final consumer.

He said: “Businesses will have to charge 3% output VAT, increasing the price of the product in question. This new VAT regime is making local businesses uncompetitive. To stay price-competitive, businesses will have to significantly cut back their profits – which has implications for their growth, employment, tax revenue and sustainability”.

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On his part, Mr. Nti expressed his appreciation to the Chamber for its support over the years, saying: “Tax is divine work, a means to creating equity and equality,” and thus everyone should be part of the tax system.

He opined that instead of having tax exemptions for certain categories of workers or people, there should be a token system to ensure that each and every one contributes to tax revenue generation. He also supported the idea of widening the tax net.

Reacting to the impact of the 3% VAT flat rate on businesses, Mr. Nti stressed that no company should be crippled by the new VAT regime.

He emphasised that it is the agenda of government to create a conducive business environment and encourage production before taxing, and that it is not in the interests of the GRA to see taxpayers burdened. He however assured that as the implementer of government’s policies, the GRA will provide feedback to government on the VAT system.

He also clarified how tax audit works, noting that when a local tax officer comes to audit the account of a business it does not mean an end of the process, but rather the start of a continuous one.

In conclusion, the Commissioner-General congratulated the Chamber for the initiative to partner the GRA and said he is looking forward to a regular interactions toward addressing tax issues.

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