According to him, the national discourse and focus were on expanding and widening the coverage of the tax net to the informal sector.
He said out of Ghana’s total population of 24 million, about 1.5 million people pay direct taxes with 5 percent coming from the informal sector.
The situation, he noted, was unacceptable, adding that Ghanaians in the informal sector continue to be the worst offenders in terms of tax evasion, even though there was consensus that the sector controlled about 70 percent of the economy.
Mr. Terkper made these remarks in an address read on his behalf by Dr . Edward Larbi – Siaw , Tax Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), at the 2013 Management Retreat of GRA staff in Kumasi yesterday.
It was held under the theme: Implementation of the GRA 3-Year Modernization Plan, Accomplishments, Challenges and Interventions for the Way Forward.
The Minister said, ‘It is therefore pertinent that practical measures are put in place to curb this problem. We need to plug all the loopholes to prevent leakages in the tax system.’
He added that the focus on revenue generation in the 2013 fiscal year, as indicted in the budget, was to expand the tax base and improve tax administration.
According to Minister Terkper, one major criterion to judge the performance and success of the GRA relates to how the agency would be able to increase the percentage of taxpayers from the informal sector from the present 5 percent to double digits.
‘I therefore charge you to come up with new ideas at this retreat on how this will be done. By this time next year, hopefully, I will be demanding from you improved statistics from the informal sector’s contribution to the national kitty,’ he stressed.
George Blankson, Commissioner-General of GRA, said the past year presented its own challenges for revenue mobilization though at the end of the 2012 year, GRA managed to collect GH¢11,743.19 million for the national kitty.
According to him, this figure exceeded the target by GH¢300.52, representing 2.6 percent.
He added that the collection for the 2012 was 34.70 percent above the 2011 figure, which increased the tax to GDP ratio from 16.3 percent in 2011 to 17.5 percent in 2012.
Mr. Blankson stated that during the year under review, the integration and modernization process chalked some milestones worth celebrating.
He mentioned that medium and small taxpayer offices were established in Accra and Tema as the starting point for the implementation of taxpayer segmentation and functional approach.
Others included the registration of new and re-registration of existing taxpayers and businesses, which commenced in the latter part of 2012, among other things.
He praised the GRA staff for their support which had helped the authority to chalk the successes.
The Commissioner-General appealed to the GRA management to exhibit good leadership as they prosecute the modernization agenda.
For this 2013 year, Mr. Blankson said the target for GRA was GH¢15,609.50 million with GH¢7,439.77 million expected from Domestic Direct Tax, GH¢2,176.31 million from Domestic Indirect Tax and GH¢5,993.42 million from Customs.
He said revenue mobilization for this year would be difficult because of the power crisis in the country, as it would negatively impact the profit margins of businesses, thereby affecting their tax paying ability.
The GRA Commissioner-General called on management and staff of the authority to employ their experience and knowhow of the tax environment to deliver the goods.
‘Your supervisory acumen must be brought to bear on your subordinates to get the best out of them,’ he added.
Ernest Kwesie, Board Chairman of GRA, on his part, urged the management and staff to use the retreat to deliberate and come out with creative ideas on how to expand the tax base to the informal sector, which dominates the national economy.
He assured them of the board’s preparedness to initiate practical policies and provide good policy direction to guide management in its operations.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi