The Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Henry Oroh, has said his company is supporting the Ghana Revenue Authority’s drive to digitise its operations and collect taxes from the informal sector, especially via mobile money and other digital platforms such as scan-and-pay and cards.
“We are working with the GRA through our IT platforms to see how they can reach the taxpayer through mobile money, card-based payments, scan-to-pay and USSD. We are integrating with GRA to make that work, and more education will be given so the GRA can collect more taxes from individuals and businesses in Ghana.
“To make a success of tax collection, a focus on the informal sector is key; and the GRA has done quite a lot in digitising collections. The tax collector should be easily accessible to the taxpayer, and the GRA has done a lot to improve on the collectability of taxes in the last few years,” he added.
Mr. Oroh was speaking at the maiden Zenith Bank SMEs/Corporates Breakfast Forum in Accra. The programme, which was organised in partnership with Firmus Advisory Limited – a leading business consulting firm and market leader in compliance, was under the theme ‘Empowering the private sector to maximise revenue through compliance with Ghana’s tax reforms’.
The forum forms part of the bank’s mission to continue investing in the best people, technology and environment to underscore its commitment to achieving customer enthusiasm.
He explained that government has done quite a lot in improving the environment for business, and it is time for all to pay their taxes to support government. “I believe in that sense, businesses are also inspired to pay their taxes because they can see the benefits of their taxes. In the last two years, we have seen a northward move of confidence in what government is doing and the people’s willingness to pay taxes,” he said.
Mr. Kofi Nti, the Commissioner General of the GRA, in his address noted that technology is the way forward for the authority to achieve government’s mission of collecting revenues efficiently to finance its projects.
“The economy is changing, and so we need to have a way to capture e-payments. While we are at it, we need to have capacities built at that level – if not, we will miss out on a lot of revenues. Therefore, going on the e-platform is the way forward for the GRA to ensure that the necessary revenues are collected.
“We have initiated the process and gotten to the individual level, and we will be moving to corporate institutions. It is a very sophisticated process, and so we need to have the capacities of staff built so we can avoid trials and errors,” he said.
Mr. Nti noted that so far the GRA has mobilised about 98.2 percent of its revenue target by end of April. Touching on impacts of the recent reduction in import duties on overall revenue collection, the Commissioner General said the main reason is to minimise smuggling and diversion of goods in the system.
“Once that is taken care of, we believe the reduction will not negatively impact our targets. It will also help build the attitude of compliance among our people, which is very important; and also make it very costly to be involved in deviant behaviour. At the same time, we are strengthening ourselves to punish, severely, those who despite the incentives rob the nation of its resources,” he said.
Yofi Grant, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), noted that government is a partner in all businesses, because individuals and corporate organisations owe taxes.
“Our economy is significantly led by SMEs, and these SMEs must understand what the efficiencies the tax authorities are bringing into the economy are about. That is why this particular event is very important. For many of the companies, this is the first time they are having any real linkage between taxation and business, and their responsibility of having to pay taxes in a constructive way.
“It is not that they do not pay taxes, they do; but many of them do not understand why because they are small and sometimes misunderstand the system. The tax authorities are improving the tax environment, including the narrative and collective, and we all are responsible,” he added.