Coalition urges government to desist from setting up offshore facility

Accra, The Tax Justice Coalition- Ghana has urged the Government to desist from going ahead with its plans to set up offshore facility for foreign investors in the country.

Mr Vitus Adaboo Azeem, the Steering Committee Chairman of the Tax Justice Coalition – Ghana, said it was sad to know that the current government was revisiting the Kufuor Administration’s decision to set up an offshore facility, which is a form of tax haven.

Even without such a facility, Ghana is facing several problems including corruption and looting of public resources, which are stashed away outside the country in tax havens and illicit financial flows (IFFs) by multi-national companies, he said.

According to the World Bank IFFs is also seen as financial flows that have a direct or indirect negative impact on (long term) economic growth in the country of origin.

Now we want to open the flood gates for multinationals, corrupt people and criminals to easily pass their illicit funds through.

We can demand and we have a right to demand that the President applies brakes on this harmful policy, Mr Azeem said on Friday in his presentation at the 2017 annual World Public Services Day celebration in Accra.

Mr Azeem said the Tax Justice Coalition believed that removing the secrecy that these tax havens offer would make tax dodging dramatically more difficult and enable governments in poorer countries to determine just how much they are losing by way of tax revenues, and take the appropriate actions.

We need to join hands in the fight on ending tax haven secrecy and the Coalition invites Ghanaians to join it in this fight, he added.

In 2003, the United Nations dedicated the 23rd of June for the commemoration of the annual World Public Services Day.

This year the commemoration focused on the move towards amplifying tax justice campaigns through the unavoidable linkages of social economic contract tax payers and government.

The event was organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) in partnership with the Tax Justice Coalition and the Public Service International.

Mr Azeem said Ghana needed its tax revenues from her cocoa, oil, gas and minerals for the development of the country and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We must, therefore, come together to ensure that the citizens benefit from the country’s rich resources through an effective and just tax system, he said.

The country relies too much on consumer-based taxes which are regressive in nature. We must, therefore, also push the Government to curb its reliance on regressive taxes and turn its attention to a progressive tax system, a system that taxes incomes and wealth and not consumption, he said.

On the continental level, Mr Azeem said the Coalition was calling on African governments to address the challenge posed by the data scarcity and support tax authorities to create a database that would eventually lead to the establishment of a continent-wide database on trade in goods and services and shared by all countries in Africa.

This will contribute immensely to the effort to rid the continent of IFFs and enable it to derive maximum revenues for its development, he said.

Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah, the Member of Parliament for Suhum, and a Member of the African Parliamentarians Network on Illicit Financial Flows and Tax (APNIFFT), said the Network had the desire and commitment to spearhead the fight against illicit financial flows in Africa.

He said APIFFT’s main aim was to provide a platform for African legislators to undertake sustained advocacy- related dialogue and debate in a simplified manner on IFFs, tax governance and domestic resource mobilisation.

Mr Abdallah Ali-Nakyea, a Tax Consultant, said ensuring good tax governance would entail building an efficient, fair and sustainable tax administration to fight tax planning as well as securing voluntary tax compliance.

He said the developing world lost $ 6.6 trillion in illicit outflows between 2003 and 2012 and that sub-Saharan Africa lost $ 528.9 billion through illicit outflows.

He said to address IFFs in Ghana there was the need to resource the Customs Valuation Units of the Ghana Revenue Authority to build a database on imports prices of various import destinations.

Mrs Linda Ofori-Kwafo, the Executive Director of the GII, said the commemoration of the World Public Services Day was to deepen workers and the public’s understanding of tax justice and its direct connection with efficient delivery of public services.

She said there was a global push for multi-national companies to pay their fair share of tax to fund quality public services and sustainable economic development.

Mr Eric Amoadu-Boateng of the Trades Union Congress, said tax justice was an issue which must be given ultimate attention by all and sundry.

Source: Ghana News Agency