…as it prepares to redeploy staff
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has announced that its payment systems have fully gone digital as it runs some manual systems concurrently till the end of the year.
The move is part of the GRA’s digitisation effort aimed at making it more convenient for taxpayers to meet their tax obligations and also prevent tax evasion.
The digital applications currently in place ensure that taxpayers file their returns and make payments without visiting any GRA office. The Commission is envisaging that by the end of 2021, GRA will move to a cashless system where payment of cash in their offices will cease.
Per a detailed digital plan sighted by the B&FT, the GRA is planning to move tax payment to electronic platforms by the end of May while it prepares to stop accepting cheques by June.
After this, the GRA will redeploy all it cashiers who used to operate at various offices across the country by July 1.
The Commissioner-General of the GRA, Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, speaking during the opening ceremony of the 2021 management retreat held in Koforidua said: “We are also working on matching our data with other agencies to obtain data on persons outside the tax net and follow up on same to get them registered for tax purposes”.
He was optimistic this will help in building the capacity of staff in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT), which is being supported by one of the authority’s donor partners KFW by constructing an IT Training Academy.
The retreat themed “Digitisation and Compliance for Effective Revenue Mobilisation” is geared at formulating the right strategies to achieve the set targets.
The GRA was initially budgeted to collect total tax revenue of GH₵47,253.95 million for the 2020 fiscal year. This represented 7.6 percent growth over the actual tax revenue collection of GH₵43,907.12 million for the 2019 fiscal year.
However, as a result of the impact of COVID-19 global pandemic, the budget was revised downward to GH₵42,769.50 million. This represents 2.6 percent negative growth over the actual revenue collections of GH₵43,907.12 million in 2019.
As of December 2020, GRA had collected GH₵45,338.69 billion exceeding the budget by GH₵2,569.19 billion with a positive deviation of 6.0 percent. This performance represents a nominal growth rate of 3.3 percent over the performance in 2019. In 2020, domestic revenue grew by a nominal rate of 2.8percent while Customs collection grew by 4.5 percent.
The Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) which was initially introduced in March 2020 and later expanded to all Customs Offices nationwide in June 2020 also has enhanced revenue mobilization and trade facilitation.
Restructuring of Domestic Tax Revenue Division
The Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) commenced the nationwide restructuring of its offices last year. This exercise is expected to be fully completed in the 1st quarter of 2021. The exercise aims to create offices not based on turnover as it was previously but rather based on jurisdiction.
DTRD Offices have been demarcated into two main wings namely; Area Offices which will perform mainly administrative, centralised audit and enforcement functions; and Taxpayer Service Centres (TSCs) which will carry out all other functions of DTRD namely; registration, receiving of returns, complaints, enquiries and payments, compliance, debt management and tax education. This review is aimed at bringing the services of the GRA closer to taxpayers for improved compliance.
Identifying and Taxing High Net Worth Individuals
In 2020, the GRA says it commenced work on identifying and registering high net worth individuals who have not registered with the Authority, while those who have registered but are not paying the requisite taxes were being properly assessed and made to pay the taxes due.
Tax to GDP Target
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has set a target of 17.5 percent Tax-to-GDP ratio by end of 2022. On the back of this, it is looking at collecting a total revenue of GH₵60 billion by end of 2021. This is a 32 percent increase over that of last year.
A tax-to-GDP ratio is a gauge of a nation’s tax revenue relative to the size of its economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP).
Mr. Owusu Amoah said: “It is evident that the world we find ourselves in today is running very fast in terms of technology, and to remain relevant and effective we have no choice but to be abreast with the times. The theme portrays where we are going as an Authority. This year GRA will focus on the use of digital tools to aid compliance with the expected result of increasing revenue mobilization. We will pursue the digitisation agenda fiercely. It is therefore incumbent on all staff to be ready for this drive, by improving upon our technological skills.”
Minister of Finance
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, who delivered the Keynote address at the retreat said, it is the expectation of his ministry that the GRA would experience rapid improvement in revenue collection that would move the country from the current 12 percent of GDP to 20 percent of GDP by end 2023.
“We want to build a Ghana Beyond Aid; a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources. We want to build an economy that is not dependent on charity and handouts, but an economy that will look at the proper management of its resources as the way to engineer social and economic growth in our country” Mr. Ofori Atta said.
He added that: “As we have gathered here, we need to galvanize ourselves with caution and wisdom. Let us examine and discover; let us come out with innovations that will make our objectives achievable, our actions as tax collectors should be along professional lines based on dedication to excellence. We can achieve these by establishing and nurturing mechanisms that give us the flexibility and the incentive to act for the common good, while at the same time restraining unethical and corrupt behaviour in dealings with taxpayers.”