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The Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta has said that the country is to put in place systems to consolidate the data of state agencies in the bid to capture all tax payers – both individuals and corporate entities – to ensure that the nation is able to retrieve the necessary taxes for its administration.
According to the Finance Minister, the nation is at a critical junction with COVID-19 and all efforts are needed to ensure efficient revenue generation domestically is instituted because some state institutions that should have better data gathering systems are struggling to with distortions.
“They are doing the software to link SSNIT and GRA so that we can have the overlap and see how we would be able to tax people. For example, if you look at National Insurance Commission, they have 1.4 million vehicles insured but if you go to the DVLA, they have 4 million vehicles that are licensed and this is because of data disparity. We are looking at it very critically and finding ways to link them.”
He believes that the action would compel people to present their right tax liabilities to the state as intertwined systems would fish them out if they do not. “As we continue to link things and we use big data, you can see that people would be responding.”
Asked about the deadline to see the manifestation of the data consolidation, Mr. Ofori Atta said, the process is being carefully done to ensure that there is little or no bottlenecks, therefore it would take some time, but most importantly, citizens must see the payment of taxes as a civic duty. “You can’t rush to make mistakes; we as a people need to come to the recognition that, I don’t have to watched all the time to pay my own.”
It is the belief and hope of the Finance Minister that there will be abundant opportunities post COVID-19, and therefore the nation must position itself to take advantage and improve micro- and macro-economic indicators as quickly as possible and invest in domestic revenue mobilization.
So far the initial costs of the deadly pandemic to the economy – which include what the country will lose in terms of revenue and measures to contain the disease – according to Ken Ofori Atta is estimated to be at least GH¢9.5billion, representing 2.5 percent of GDP.
The country’s budget deficit, which was initially projected at 4.7 percent is expected to widen to 7.8 percent, a situation that has forced government to run back to the IMF for a US$1 billion Rapid Credit Facility to cushion the economy. With revenue mobilization being one of the major problems of this country, as a result of the size of the informal sector, the Finance Minister wants to put some urgent initiatives to shore up revenue.