Four million registered taxpayers avoided tax in 2015

D.I.
Laary, GNA

Accra, Aug. 26, GNA – Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah,
Head of University of Professional Studies’ Centre for Public Accountability,
has raised concerns over poor revenue collection practice by authorities,
culminating in government losing millions of income to entities every year.

He said, last year, six million registered
taxpayers were supposed to pay income tax to government but only two million
honoured – leaving a whopping four million go without paying levy – a situation
that is largely attributed to being responsible for gross fiscal
irresponsibility in the country. 

These concerns were expressed when Mr
Kan-Dapaah addressed participants on “the New Public financial management law:
a comprehensive law on fiscal responsibility”, at the national forum on open
governance.

The forum was organised by Ghana Integrity
Initiative (GII), a local chapter of Transparency International, on the topic:
“Building an Open Government in Ghana, Why Open Governance Matters?”

The situation, he noted, was substantially
contributing to high cost of doing business in the country and the local
currency volatility and its attendant cost on the national economy.

“I think our tax collection agencies are not
doing well, the Ghana Revenue Authority should go out there and collect the
monies, we have the capacity to increase our tax revenue,” Mr Kan-Dapaah said.

He also accused some chartered accountants
of conniving and condoning with some individuals and entities to forge tax
returns, and urged revenue authorities to do due diligence and be bold to
prosecute such culprits.

He said the situation arose largely because
Ghanaians were too protective of each other and so refuse to report wrongdoers
to appropriate agencies for the necessary penal sanctions to be applied.

“There is only one solution to solve the
problem of corruption in this country, that is [punitive] sanctions, we should
also be honest to report corrupt acts, but we are too protective of each
other,” he said.

He expressed worry that the practice of
public financial management has been the same over the years.

“The real governance challenge that we have
as a nation and the way forward is open governance, citizens must have all the
information that they need.”

In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Alhassan
Azong, Minister of State in-charge of Public Sector Reforms Secretariat noted
that taking into account, Ghana’s political economy, it was imperative
stakeholders gathered to examine effective measures that would bring about
transparency and accountability in the management of public finance through
open governance partnership (OGP) platform.

“OGP platform presents an enormous
opportunity for Ghana to demonstrate to its good people and the international
community of its deepest commitment to pursuing open government,” he said.

He said the National OGP Action plan represented
a clear indication of the country’s intention of persistently deepening
democratic governance and attaining gains of open government.

The OGP is a global initiative that aims to
promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and encourage use of
new technologies to improve governance.

The OGP is overseen by a multi-stakeholder
International Steering Committee that comprised government and civil society
representatives aimed to improve service delivery and make governments more
responsible, transparent and accountable to their citizens.

In September 2011, late President John Evans
Atta-Mills on behalf of Ghana, signed the OGP Declaration that enjoined Ghana
to develop its OGP National Action Plan through a broad-based consultative process
for submission to the Global Secretariat of the Partnership.

Ghana was invited to participate and present
its Action Plan at the OGP’s April 2012 Conference in Brazil, but failed to
attend because the country had not been able to develop the plan.

In a bid to advance Ghana’s commitment, an
Interim Working Group, comprising government and CSO, was constituted in May
2012 under the auspices of the Public Sector Reform Secretariat.

The Group took stock of practices and
on-going programmes and projects that reflects OGP principles and proposed that
a National Steering committee be formed to lead the development of the National
OGP Action Plan.

Ghana has developed her second OGP Action
Plan with one of the commitments being to initiate discussions towards passage
of a fiscal responsibility law.

GNA

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