Speech delivered by GRA Acting Commissioner General at media soiree

Commissioners of GRA,

Management and Staff of GRA,

Distinguished Members of the Media Fraternity,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You are welcome to this evening’s friendly interactive session aimed at enhancing the already cordial relationship existing between editors and senior reporters and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). We deem our relationship with members of the inky fraternity as very important, therefore we are glad to have such encounters during which we further build on our relationship and express our appreciation for your support.

As you already know, the GRA is the state institution mandated to collect tax revenue for government. This mandate will however not be realised if we fail to get our messages across to taxpayers and the general public. The media is indeed the best medium for sending out messages to wide and varying audiences and thus you are one of the important partners we rely on in this regard to carry out our mandate.

Over the years you have helped us in providing invaluable information to our taxpayers on the need to be voluntarily compliant and to honour all their tax obligations and to urge those outside the tax net to come on board. I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for the assistance and support over the years and to encourage you to do more. When you receive reports about GRA, do not hesitate to seek our side of the story before publication. Although this evening is not for long speeches, permit me to take the opportunity to bring to the fore some of the happenings within the Authority.

2020 Revenue Performance

The Authority was initially budgeted to collect total tax revenue of GH? 47,253.95 million for the 2020 fiscal year. This represented 7.6% growth over the actual tax revenue collections 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 to GH? 42,769.50 million. This represents 2.6% negative growth over the actual revenue collection of GH? 43,907.12 million in 2019.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to announce that despite the COVID19 pandemic and its negative impact on businesses, the GRA was able to meet its 2020 revised revenue target. The Authority was tasked to collect a revised tax revenue target of GH? 42,769.50; as at December 2020, we had collected GH? 45,338.69 million exceeding the budget by GH? 2,569.19 million thus, with a positive deviation of 6.0%.

This performance represents a nominal growth rate of 3.3% over the same period in 2019. In 2020, domestic revenue grew by a nominal rate of 2.8% while Customs collection grew by 4.5%.

A breakdown is as follows:

Direct Taxes – Target (GH? 22,153.64 billion) Collection (GH? 22, 212.66)

Indirect Taxes – Target (GH? 9,698.66) Collection (GH? 10,583.37) Customs – Target (GH? 10,917.20) Collection (GH? 12,583.37)

The reasons for this performance can be attributed to factors such as:

• Increased and Targeted Compliance exercises – The Authority undertook a lot of compliance exercises which unearthed revenue that would have been undetected and also blocked some loopholes. Audits were strengthened and a new department, the Tax Audit and Quality Assurance Department was set up and these went a long way to aid revenue mobilization.

• Integrated Tax Application and Preparation System (ITaPS) & Ghana.Gov – The Authority partially rolled out the Integrated Tax Application and Preparation System (ITaPS) for online filing of Personal Income Tax for employees. With payment of taxes online, bulk payments happened through Ghana.Gov. This helped greatly in mobilizing revenue in the face of COVID-19 and helped to limit movement of persons and also decongest our offices.

• Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) – ICUMS was introduced in the course of 2020 with some initial challenges. However, by the close of the year, the system was running almost perfectly with the relevant stakeholders attesting to its improvement. The system also contributed significantly to the improved performance of Customs. Total revenue generated from 1st March, 2020 to 9th January, 2021 through ICUMS was GH? 11,651,635,820.46.

• Increased Operations in the Mining, Financial & Telecommunication Sectors – The soaring of gold prices on the world market contributed to an increase in the operations of the mining sector with a resultant increase in tax revenue. Likewise the financial sector and the telecommunication industry also saw improved performance.

• Enforcement Exercises – A number of enforcement exercises were carried out on defaulting taxpayers leading to the collection of taxes owed, interest and penalties. I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate that the Authority wishes that all taxpayers will comply voluntarily with the tax laws to prevent us from resorting to the unpleasant duty of carrying out enforcement actions such as closing down shops and businesses.

• Corporate Social Responsibility – GRA has consistently prided itself on its contribution towards improving the lives of persons in the communities that it operates in. In this regard, we take our corporate social responsibility seriously. In 2020, we contributed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing the much needed testing facility in collaboration with GIZ, one of our development partners. Currently, the two mobile vans that we provided the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) are in Obuasi, providing the people of the community with COVID-19 testing. Also, we supported the 1 Medical Reception Centre in Michel Camp with PPE’s. In 2021, we intend to extend our corporate social responsibility to other communities to contribute our quota to society.

2021 REVENUE TARGET

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this year, while waiting for the Ministry of Finance to come out with the budget for the year, GRA has set for itself an aggressive target to collect a provisional tax revenue of GHC60 billion. This constitutes a 32.3% increase over the 2020 actual collection. This task I must admit, appears quite daunting at first sight, but this will not deter us as an organisation. With hard work, a right attitude and innovative measures, we can achieve the target.

STRATEGIES FOR 2021

These are some of the measures that will help us achieve our 2021 revenue target:

• Introduction of New Excise Tax Stamps – From the 1st of January, 2021, we introduced new excise tax stamps with enhanced security features which are difficult to duplicate. The Authority has adopted strict measures for the distribution and monitoring of the stamps to ensure that only recognized manufacturers and importers of excisable products receive them and that they are all duly accounted for. I must however add that the old and new stamps will both be in circulation until the old stamps are out of stock.

• TIN/Ghana Card Replacement – The GRA in collaboration with the National Identification Authority and other relevant stakeholders are working to ensure that with effect from 1st April, 2021, the Ghana card Unique Identification Number of the National Identification Authority replaces the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

Taxpayers will therefore be required to use the Ghana Card Identity Number for tax purposes as well. This replacement of identification will enable the organisations share important data and also help identify and rope in eligible taxpayers, especially in the informal sector. Taxpayers will also not spend time in acquiring TINs as they will use the Ghana Card Identity Number for tax purposes.

• E-Commence – There will be vigorous efforts to tax players in the e-commerce market. This sector has been a challenge over the years for the Authority, but this year, we are providing staff with the requisite training to enable them identify players in the sector for tax purposes.

• 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 aim of the exercise is to create offices not on the basis of 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 will bring our services closer to our taxpayers for improved compliance and service delivery.

• Deployment of Information Technology Tools – The GRA will continue with its digitization effort. The next phases of IT systems that were deployed in 2020 such as ITaPS and ICUMS will be rolled out to make it more convenient for taxpayers to honour their tax obligations and also prevent tax evasion and avoidance. To help in building the capacity of staff in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT), one of our donor partners KFW is helping with the construction of an IT Training Institute. The contractor is currently on site, and construction will start soon.

• The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – AfCFTA through ICUMS commenced on the 18th of January, 2021. Per this initiative Customs will implement six of the agreements namely; Tariffs schedule, Rules of Origin, Customs Cooperation & Mutual Administration Assistance, Trade facilitation, Non-Tariff Barriers and Transit. Although this may not have a direct revenue benefit, it is expected to create job opportunities through increased trade.

• Tax Education – The Authority will undertake increased tax education exercises to help inform taxpayers on their rights and obligations, processes and procedures, among others, all aimed at ensuring voluntary tax compliance. In the light of COVID-19, virtual tax education will also be used to complement the other modes of education. To complement our tax education efforts, we will also focus on excellent customer care. Our aim is to delight our customers even as they discharge their civic responsibilities.

• Prosecution – This year GRA is going all out to pursue tax defaulters and persons who infringe on tax laws. We will launch a dedicated and special court for tax cases, as well as recruit more professionals to join our Prosecutions Unit.

In addition will be organizing workshops for judges on tax laws. Last year our operational officers were trained in evidence gathering and identifying cases for prosecution. With these structures in place we would like to sound a strong word of caution to tax defaulters and persons who indulge in fraudulent tax practices that they will be prosecuted expeditiously according to the tax laws. We hope we can count on you to publicise these cases.

• High Net Worth Unit – Our High Net Worth Unit has also been established to deal with the tax affairs of High Net Worth individuals in the country. This category of persons includes musicians, actors and actresses, pastors, international footballers.

etc etc. This Unit’s mandate is to identify, locate, profile and assess these high net worth persons to tax. Ultimately, we need all persons who should pay tax to contribute their quota to the national kitty.

• Data Analytics- We have engaged with various government and private institutions to obtain data on activities on taxable persons. We have also employed Data Scientists and Data Analytic officers. All these will enable us analyse and compare data from other institutions to uncover non compliant Taxpayers.

CONCLUSION

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as I indicated earlier, tonight is not a time for long speeches, I will therefore end here. I wish to request that the established relationship between the GRA and you – our partners – grows from strength to strength so that together we can mobilise the needed revenue for national development and to get to the position where as a country, we can be totally self-reliant and help to achieve the objectives of “Ghana Beyond Aid.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to observe the protocols we shall not have the usual cocktail and long interactive sessions. Please adhere to all COVID-19 protocols and keep safe.

Thank you all for coming.

God bless you us all.

 

Source: GHANA WEB

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