West Africa asked to demonstrate prudent tax revenue management

Accra, Aug. 17, GNA
– Finance Minister Mr Seth Terkper has urged governments in the West African
sub-region, to demonstrate prudent management of tax revenue to induce regular
and repeated tax compliance.

In a speech read on
his behalf at a training workshop for tax professionals from the sub-region in
Accra, Mr Terpker said the perception by taxpayers that tax revenue is being
put to good use is an assurance to securing the tax base.

The training on
International Initiatives at Securing the Tax Base: Tax Harmonisation was
organised by the West Africa Tax Forum (WATAF) and seeks to bring the various
countries in the sub-region, to share their experiences and explore ways to improve
domestic revenue mobilisation.

The three-day
forum, which is the first, is being co-sponsored by German Development Agency,
the European Union, ECOWAS and the Ford Foundation.  

Mr Terpker said
revenue administration must also embark on sustained tax education campaigns
and programmes for taxpayers to enable them understand the tax laws, procedures
and processes.

“A transparent and
open tax system backed by tax laws clearly defining taxpayers’ rights and
obligations will help secure the tax base and maximise tax revenue,” he said.

Mr Terkper said the
adoption of a policy of tax harmonisation is important if the regional
integration process is to be meaningful and beneficial to citizens in the
region.

However, he said,
as taxes might be barriers to the free movement of goods, services or
production factors, their adjustment to integration should be examined.

“Tax harmonisation
is a tool which can help remove some of these barriers,” he said, adding that
the adoption of the Common External Tariff by ECOWAS is expected to be an
effective instrument for harmonising the import policies of member states.

He said for tax
harmonisation to succeed among member countries of WATAF, there is the need to
adopt a common code of conduct to inform and guide tax policy formulation
across the region and impose sanctions when the code is breached.

“I am inclined to
think that WATAF does not have to re-invent the wheel. It is appropriate to
learn from the rich history and experiences of the European Union and other
integration processes in South America and other parts of the world,” Me
Terkper said.

He urged the
participants to take the lessons seriously and readily shared the knowledge
acquired with their colleagues.

Mr George Blankson,
the Commissioner General of Ghana Revenue Authority, said the training is in
line with the objectives of WATAF, which is to encourage strong collaboration
and sharing of information amongst all ECOWAS member states towards improving
the quality of tax administration and ensuring that all West African member
states speak with one cohesive voice on tax policy and administration matters
at international forums.

He said through
continuous and sustained training of tax administrators’ countries could secure
their tax base to increase tax revenue.

Mr Blankson said
there is the need for such training of revenue professionals and tax
administrators as the business environment and taxpayers are getting
increasingly complex and sophisticated as a result of improved technology,
processes and practices.

The three-day
training would focus on providing participants with an improved understanding
of current initiatives targeted at securing the tax base globally and how tax
harmonisation is relevant to West African Revenue Authorities.

The training would
also enable participants to situate the concept of tax harmonisation within the
precinct of municipal law, socio-economic policy as well as trends adopted for
securing the tax base.

GNA

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