The Lead Fiscal Policy Specialist at OXFAM, Dr Alexander Ampabeng has called for the urgent need for Ghana to invest in building its tax infrastructure development in order to mobilise and maximize revenue to address its numerous development needs.
According to him, the lack of a functional tax infrastructure for a very long time is responsible for the non-realisation of projected revenues from many tax policy measures the country pursued.
‘’We need to set the space, lay the very foundation that can help us generate the revenue we want. Look at E-levy for example, it was introduced without having the infrastructure. So we were relying on third parties to collect the revenues for government” he laments.
Dr Ampabeng who was speaking at a Budget Forum by Civil Society Organisations ahead of the 2022 mid-year budget review presentation by Finance Minister also cited Ghana’s ports and the Gaming Commission of suffering from the same disease of lack of tax infrastructure where most of the systems in place are controlled externally.
For instance, servers that track gambles in Ghana for tax purposes are hosted in South Africa and other parts of the world.
The Fiscal Policy Specialist also observed that a workable tax infrastructure is key in ensuring especially the artisans and the digital commerce space pay taxes.
“We have not been able to collect property taxes because we do not have the infrastructure to account for who owns what property, and no standardised valuation in determining the worth of properties,” he observed.
He has therefore urged for investment in human capital and tax infrastructure systems that will ensure all taxable items are captured and well-accounted for as basis for government to make meaningful projections that aggregates for example, how much revenue governments expects from say property taxes saying “We don’t even know what sort of properties are out there to tax, so how do we make projections?”
Dr Ampabeng reiterated four key proposals by CSOs Budget forum for consideration and incorporation into the mid-year budget review.
These include the passage of the Tax Exemptions Bill, property taxation, the taxation of the digital business space and artisanal taxation in order to mobilise the needed revenue domestically.
The Africa Programme Officer of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Dennis Gyeyir said the budget forum with the media provides opportunity for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to shed light on their monitoring of the 2022 budget implementation for the first half of the year whiles urging government to pay critical attention to the views expressed by stakeholders.
“It was to ensure that some proposals we made into the the 20222 budget are being implemented and to forecast how the rest of the year should go in terms of our proposals and governments commitments to the budget for this fiscal year’’, h stated.