COMMISSIONER GENERAL OF GRA
CHAIRMAN AND BOARD MEMBERS OF GRA
MANAGEMENT TEAM OF CATA
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF CATA
MANAGEMENT AND STAFF OF GRA
DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE
DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN FROM THE MEDIA
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
- Let me first congratulate all delegates to this conference for your contributions and output during the past five days. Let me also thank the organisers of this conference for the invitation to be part of the closing ceremony. Intellectual exercises such as the one you have gone through in the past five days have never been an easy task especially when it has to deal with a living and growing subject like taxation.
- Having gone through this conference with the theme “Leveraging Technology to Enhance Revenue Administration”, I wish to believe that delegates from countries that are yet to reach an advanced level of the use of technology in tax administration have benefited immensely from this conference and will be returning well-armed to share experiences gained here with colleagues at home.
- I am informed that you treated and discussed a range of topics, including
- Information Management through Technology
- Mega Trends in Digital Technology
- Driving Compliance Through Technology
- Data Driven Tax Administration
- Use of Digital Solutions to Enhance Compliance
- Digitization-Impact on Human Resources
- With these topics, I am inclined to ask 5 questions:
- Are delegates prepared to put forward policy proposals and implementation steps what has been discussed here to enhance their revenue administrations?
- What role do we expect technology to play in positively influencing tax administrations especially for the developing countries within CATA?
- How can we use technology to reengineer our business processes and procedures (in assessments, compliance and auditing) to ensure that they are convenient to the taxpayer especially in the area of filing tax returns and payment of taxes?
- How can we use technology to prevent or minimise tax evasion, illicit financial outflows, and fraud?
- Is technological innovations to improve tax administration in order to boost domestic tax revenue the answer we are looking for?
- I believe the answers to these questions would help in the implementation of the resolutions you have made here.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe we have reached a stage in our development where we must adopt appropriate, current and improved technology to make tax administration convenient for taxpayers.
- In Ghana for example, we have a population of 27 million, but tax payers only amount to 1.2 million. We are dealing with a very large informal economy, and that means the burden of taxation falls on a very small number of people.
- We have been thinking about ways to leverage technology to broaden this tax base so that the burden of taxation will be lowered and the collection of taxes will be enhanced.
- This is why we are engaged in a number of policies this year. We have launched a digital national ID, because you will have to identify all your tax payers, to be able to collect. It is a digital ID card, biometrically based both fingerprint and iris, which we want to issue to the whole population, both foreigners and citizens.
- We have also launched a digital address system; you have to know where everybody lives if you are going to be able collect your revenues. So in Ghana today we have 16.1 billion addresses. Every 5 *5 square meter of land is appropriately identified with post code, district, region and so on.
- We have also moved on to work on the implementation of an interoperable payment system between the mobile companies and the banks. If you are a revenue authority, you must be able to have an efficient way of people paying their taxes. Some people may never step in a bank the whole of their lives; they may just have their mobile phones. But we have to provide the convenient technology to allow them to pay their taxes. And this is where the Interoperability comes in.
- As far as the technical work is concerned, work is completed on an Interoperable payment system for Ghana. Now we have to go through a number of issues including the governance framework and others. But it will be launched by the end of this year or early next year. This therefore will allow for financial inclusion and allow a lot of people in both the rural and urban areas to be able to pay their taxes.
- So once you are able to uniquely identify everyone with the help of technology; you are able to uniquely identify where everyone is, in terms of addresses whether businesses or residence; once you are able to provide a convenient means of payment of taxes and so on for every one, you have been really been able to leverage technology to be able to improve revenue collections.
- Our goal in Ghana, once all of these are completed, is to be able to ensure that we set a goal where everyone will have to file their taxes by a certain day each year. You can therefore be able to assess, given your income, how much you are supposed to pay to the state. This is where we are going, and we hope that with that type of leveraging of technology, we will be able to rope in a lot more tax payers, than in currently the case.
- We want to have a situation where everyone is filing their taxes. Even if your tax assessment says you will not pay a pesewa to the tax authorities we still want you to file. That alone is very good information.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, in this regard, it is appropriate to mention that the Domestic Tax Revenue Division of GRA is taking advantage of technology to implement an e-solution platform, the Total Revenue Integrated Processing System (TRIPS) to administer taxes.
- As government, we are eager to see how this innovation translates into higher tax yield and boost revenue mobilization. There is an urgency in building our domestic revenue mobilization and let us explore how best technology can help us achieve that goal.
- With effective tax administration we may not need to higher income and profit tax rates to increase revenue collections. Creating effective national tax systems from policy to administration remains our challenge. And I believe the outcomes of this conference will move us a step up the ladder in building stronger national tax systems.
- Additionally, on the 1st of September 2017, the Customs Division of GRA started the implementation of paperless clearance of goods from Ghanaian ports. This platform is helping immensely in GRA’s revenue mobilisation drive. This is ample testimony of what technology can achieve when properly leveraged.
- I am therefore urging all delegates particularly those from the developing parts of the Commonwealth not to lose sight of what technology can achieve for revenue administrations.
- I charge you to be ambassadors of what technology can do and take the initiative in recommending e-solutions to deal with tax issues, including how to capture the “hard to Tax” in the revenue tax net, and how to maximize consumption taxation. This way, tax administrations will not only reduce the turn-around time for taxpayers to do business but will also improve service delivery.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sure in your brief stay here you have experienced the world acclaimed traditional Ghanaian hospitality and enjoyed your stay here.
- I wish you safe flights and journeys back to your countries. Until 2018 when the next CATA conference reconvenes, it is my pleasure to declare the 38th CATA annual technical conference held in Ghana formally closed.
- God bless us all, and God bless our homeland Ghana.
Thank you for your attention.