National Forum calls for fairer, more collaborative tax policies


A national forum held today focused on improving tax equity and governance in Ghana. Organized by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), the forum brought together civil society groups, academics, industry representatives and professional associations to discuss tax policy.

“The purpose is to draw government attention to having a fairer tax system,” said IBP’s Senior Program Officer Dr. Alex Ampaabeng in opening remarks. He referenced recent debates over taxes like the luxury vehicle levy, e-levy and proposed carbon taxes as showing equity concerns. “When people feel the amount they’re paying is fair, they’re less willing to engage in evasion,” he explained.

Beyond fairness, Dr. Ampaabeng noted revenue pressures also push governments towards potentially inequitable policies, like over-taxing lower income groups. With COVID-19, Ukraine war and weather events straining budgets, there is demand for more tax revenue. But he argued that “making the tax system fairer” and giving citizens more voice fosters greater compliance and revenue collection.

The forum focused on how different groups can jointly promote tax equity and accountability on government spending. However, Dr. Ampaabeng identified a key challenge being access to necessary data for analysis. “We’re not so fortunate with that in Ghana,” he said, describing failed attempts to obtain information from agencies.

Dr. Ampaabeng stressed that “civil society plays a crucial role in tax policies and policymaking.” He wants government to recognize this and be more responsive to data requests rather than treating engagement as adversarial. “We have something to contribute. Within this room there are professors, doctors, researchers. We can contribute to the tax conversation,” he said. With many countries struggling fiscally, better engagement could reveal untapped revenue sources.

Rather than antagonism, Dr. Ampaabeng advocated for “a cooperative relationship with government on fiscal issues.” He urged, “We want to be considered key partners on Ghana’s tax policies.” That means engaging civil society groups early when formulating new taxes instead of notifying late.

“Engaging civil society helps limit resistance because people understand what to expect from tax policies,” he added. “There’s bigger gain for engagement over neglect.” With on-the-ground experience, civil society input can improve policy outcomes.

In conclusion, Dr. Ampaabeng’s message was for “government to adopt a more collaborative working relationship with civil society on tax and fiscal policies.” Together, they can advance shared goals of equity, accountability and revenue sustainability for Ghana.

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