GRA commissioners confused over meeting 2019 revenue target
Adnan Adams Mohammed
Two of Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) topmost Commissioners have given conflicting views on whether the revenue collecting authority could meet its revenue target set by the finance ministry.
While the Commissioner-General for the Authority, Amishaddai OwusuAmoah, says enough measures have been put in place to ensure that the GH¢45 billion domestic revenue target set by the government is met by close of the year, Commissioner of Customs, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah is saying GRA risks missing out on its revenue target for 2019 as the decision by the government to slash the import benchmark values by about 50 percent takes a toll.
The two conflicting views from the two topmost commissioners have confused Ghanaians and also reflecting a lack of synergy in communication from the Authority.
The midyear-budget review also saw the Finance Minister pegged revenue target for this year to GHS58.89 billion. The government has for the past three years struggled to meet its domestic revenue target and this has resulted in cut down in planned expenditure such as spending on infrastructure and other key areas. A strong performance in domestic revenue will grant the government the opportunity of spending in areas such as capital infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, and schools. The last time the Ghana Revenue Authority met its domestic revenue target was in 2015 where it exceeded its target by more than GH¢600 million.
“With the Customs Division, we have a challenge which has come about as a result of the government policies where all vehicles coming into the country have had their benchmark values reduced by 30 percent while that of all other goods had their value reduced by fifty percent. So we start at a disadvantageous position.” Col Damoah in an interview with Accra based media explained, adding that, the reduction in the benchmark values has affected expected revenue from imports and this is expected to continue.
In April 2019, the government announced a 50 percent reduction in the benchmark values of all imports while vehicles witnessed a thirty percent drop. Some Economist who agreed to the benchmark value reduction argued that, it make Ghana competitive as well as provide a competitive alternative to other ports in West Africa.
Between January and June this year, the country had raked in GHS22.7 billion compared to a target of GHS29.95 billion. Notwithstanding, Col Damoah believes the domestic revenue collection unit will have to do more to boost revenue for the rest of the year.
“If the reduction in import volumes and values were to favor our local industries where we have more manufacturing locally and more exports, then that should be something to be happy about. But if the reduction in imports in terms of volumes and values do not impact on the domestic revenue side, then it means on the whole we are going to lose out,” he added.
Meanwhile, The Commissioner-General has expressed concern about tax infractions by companies, which prevented the country from getting the needed revenue for developmental purposes.
He said there were serious violations of tax laws, a situation where some companies had falsified VAT invoices and made misleading statements about their tax returns.
Mr. Amoah said four traders were currently facing prosecution for violating tax laws, urging the public to do well to honor their tax obligations.
On debt collection, he said most companies owed the GRA and as part of the campaign to retrieve the money, it had written to the organizations to settle their debts or face the full rigours of the law.
In line with that, the Authority, in September 2019, launched a task force dubbed: “Operation Collect, Name and Shame” aimed at collecting taxes that were overdue and the names of recalcitrant businesses were published in the media to settle their debts.
The task force was to ensure compliance with companies and individuals who have refused to pay their outstanding taxes.
“The operation was necessary because revenue performance was low and it was prudent to use all legitimate measures to shore it up,” he said.