Editorial: Establish Tax Appeals Board as required by Revenue Administration Act

IMF wants alcohol, tobacco, property taxes up to boost revenue
GRA Boss and Ken Ofori-Atta

A Tax Partner at PwC Ghana, Abeiku Gyan-Quansah, has observed that the delay in setting up the Independent Tax Appeals Board (ITAB) is not healthy for tax dispute resolutions in the country.

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta in March 2021 assured parliament that the board would be constituted by June 30 – a promise that is yet to be fulfilled.

Speaking on a Quarterly Tax Dialogue Series programme organised by the UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce, Gyan-Quansah stated that a major adverse impact of the delay will be prolonged disputes and unresolved litigations in courts – leading to uncertainties which may result in loss of funds.

He recalled the frantic efforts that went into the amendment to get government to accept the position of private businesses in establishing the ITAB.

Dominic Naab, a Special Aide to the Commissioner General of the GRA, tried to explain the delay by adding that there was an earlier misunderstanding as to which government agency was responsible for setting up the board.

GRA erroneously thought it had the mandate to put in place the committee to serve; however, the law places responsibility on the Ministry of Finance to prevent a conflict-of-interest situation on the part of the GRA.

He therefore assured the Finance Ministry will be notified to constitute the board.

One of the mandates of the ITAB is to hear and determine appeals against decisions of the Commissioner-General with respect to objections to tax decisions under the Revenue Administration Act, 2016, Act 915 as amended.

The spirit of the law ensures the composition of ITAB is expected to instil confidence in taxpayers and reduce the amount of litigation. A person who is dissatisfied with a tax decision affecting him directly may object to the decision within 30 days of being notified of the tax decision.

ITAB has been introduced as another layer in the tax dispute resolution process, to provide an aggrieved taxpayer the right to be heard by it before seeking redress through the court system.

Some taxpayers and businesses have expressed disquiet about the delay in setting up the Independent Tax Appeals Board (ITAB), and we therefore impress on the relevant authorities to see to the speedy resolution of the board in line with the Revenue Administration Act, 2016, Act 915 as amended.

Cost of electricity for industry on the high side…

The Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Ghana Industry (AGI), Seth Twum Akwaboah, is reiterating the fact that cost of electricity for industry is relatively on the high side, and something needs to be done to bring the cost down in order for Ghanaian enterprises to be competitive in AfCFTA.

The AGI has persistently indicated that high cost of electricity tariffs for industry is a disincentive to competitiveness and has been urging a review of same. AGI has impressed on the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to factor-in their concerns during the upcoming major utility tariff review to help ensure that industry is protected.

Mr. Akaboah noted that in Ethiopia electricity is sold to industry at less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), but in Ghana industry pays 15-17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Investors will set up in low-cost locations and ship the goods into that country, much to the chagrin of countries like ours where costs are relatively higher.

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has revealed that the cost of electricity is still a major challenge to businesses in the country. The AGI CEO said: “We must look at the situation where industry pays more than residential consumers. It must be reversed”.

He therefore called on government to reduce the tariff’s cost to the industries, since that will encourage economic growth and the manufacturing sector.

African countries should adopt efficient schemes of electricity pricing in order to foster the development of a viable and well-functioning power industry. Reducing the cost of generating electricity could significantly improve overall energy supply in Africa.

Consequently, the Association of Ghana Industry has begun a fresh push for government to consider their persistent call for industry and corporates to stop subsidising electricity for residential users.

AGI believes with commencement of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) the call must now be given serious consideration to save industries from collapse and help protect jobs.  Currently, the country’s energy sector is facing monumental challenges such as unreliable power supply, mounting debts among others.

This call must be heeded or acted upon to see the sector overcome some of its entrenched problems, and we hope the PURC can come up with something favourable for industry so that local industries can thrive and be competitive.

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