President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the only thing Ghanaians have not made part and parcel of their lives, since the coming into force of the 4th Republican dispensation, is to make taxes regular, predictable parts of their lives.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “our tax-to-GDP ratio of 14.3% compares unfavourably with our peers the world over. The average tax-to-GDP ratio in West Africa stands at 18%, and, indeed, the recommended ratio for ECOWAS Member States is at least 20%. The average for OECD countries is 34%.”
It is no wonder, the President indicated, that American, German, French, Japanese and British peoples, amongst others, can readily find the means to fund their own development, particularly their infrastructural development, whereas we are constantly struggling to do the same.
“There is, therefore, an urgent need to enhance significantly our domestic revenue mobilisation capability to realise our development potential, create opportunities for our vibrant and dynamic youth, and deliver improved livelihoods for our fellow citizens,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Monday, [September 13, 2021], in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, when he delivered the keynote address at the 2021 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA).
Addressing the gathering, the President noted that the necessity for increased mobilization of resources for national development is crucial, especially as there are critical needs in all sectors in all parts of the country.
“Not too far from where we are gathered, torrential rains have caused havoc and washed away bridges and roads. Farms have been destroyed and investments have disappeared under floodwaters. These are just new additions to an already difficult situation of a long list of infrastructural deficits that require a lot of money for their elimination,” he said.
The President continued, “COVID-19 has brought extra devastation to our fragile economies, and we have not seen the end of it to be able to say we can start counting our losses. The only certainty we do have is that we need a lot of resources to engender the rebuilding of the economy. Hence, the exceptional significance of Government’s Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme, which is seeking to raise GH¢100 billion from both public and private sectors to finance the revitalization of our post-COVID economy.”
He was, thus, glad that the Ghana Bar Association has decided to enlist the undoubted strength of lawyers to help in the mobilization of resources through taxation, adding that “we have work to do to convince the people of Ghana that, if we are to get the developments that we all crave, then paying taxes must become a regular and unquestioning feature of our lives.”
With the theme of the Conference being “Ensuring an Increase in Revenue Mobilization through Taxation for the Purpose of Accelerated National Development”, President Akufo-Addo urged the outgoing President of the Bar, Anthony Forson Jnr, to start from getting members of the Bar to pay their taxes.
“The record of lawyers in paying taxes has been historically poor. It is unfortunate, but a most unpleasant fact, that members of the professions in our country have not been known to set a good example when it comes to paying taxes. They appear to think that being members of the learned professions put them above complying with everyday civic duties, like paying taxes. It is embarrassing that lawyers are often at the top of the list of those who flout our tax laws, and use their expertise to avoid paying taxes,” he stressed.
Following the recent exposé by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to the effect that some sixty thousand (60,000) professionals working in the country, including lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers, surveyors, architects, do not pay taxes, the President was hopeful that persons evading taxes move swiftly to regularise their tax affairs before the GRA moves to crack the whip.
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