In a bid to stamp out corrupt revenue collection officials in the country, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) together with the Ministry of Finance have established a Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Unit.
The new department will deal with all complaints of corruption and ensure that the public gets redress for any concern brought before it. Additionally, it also serves as the auditing arm of the GRA to re-audit the work of officers to ensure they have not shortchanged government.
Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta expressed confidence that the move will assist government to rake in all available revenue to shore-up its coffers. This is important because revenue targets set for the GRA are often not met and we have had the experience in the past where ace-investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas caught Custom Officers in a secret tape tampering with revenue proceeds and it is important to guard against the practice.
Currently, the country’s tax to GDP ratio stands between 11-13 percent and conscious efforts are being made to of hit 20 percent and this can only be achieved if such revenue leakages are blocked. The department will not only keep officers on their toes, but also ensure that all citizens declare accurate tax liabilities, as the work of officers will be thoroughly scrutinised to ensure no infractions are recorded.
Ken Ofori-Atta observed that there are up to 5 million unregistered taxpayers – both individual and corporate entities; and with filing and payments, there are about GH¢400-600million in uncollected debts due to bottlenecks, acts of transparency and inconsistent application of debt-recovery actions.
This situation cannot persist if the country is striving for a Ghana beyond Aid. Tax obligations must be honoured because without taxes, governments would be unable to meet the demands of their societies. Taxes are crucial because governments collect this money and use it to finance social projects.
Without taxes, government contributions to the health sector would be impossible. Apart from social projects, governments also use money collected from taxes to fund sectors that are crucial for the wellbeing of their citizens such as security, scientific research, environmental protection, etc.
Therefore, if revenue targets are consistently missed, then providing key social projects like the improvement of healthcare would be quite daunting.