Ken Ofori-Atta

Ofori-Atta hints of special court to deal with challenges with tax collections

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta says government is working to set up special courts to deal with some of the legal challenges encountered in revenue mobilization in the country.

Speaking at the KPMG post-budget forum in Accra on Monday, he said, “Maybe part of the Achilles heel is also the issue of prosecution if you do something wrong and how quickly we as a society are ready to move on that tangent; but for GRA, we are moving towards whether we can get special courts to facilitate some of the things.”

Government is hoping to raise about GH¢67.1 billion in revenue and grants for 2020, representing 16.8% of GDP.

The Mr Ofori-Atta announced in Parliament on Wednesday during the 2020 budget that a chunk of this target, some GH¢65.8 billion, will be from domestic revenue.

Although no new taxes will be introduced in the 2020 budget statement to shore up the revenue mobilisation efforts, the Finance Minister said a complete review of Ghana’s structure will ensure that the government meets its 2020 revenue targets.

The government, meanwhile, hopes to spend GH¢85.9 billion in 2020, suggesting that it will spend GH¢18.8 billion more than the revenue it will generate next year.

Revenue measures

The Finance Minister said the government is committed to providing support to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in its ongoing reforms for 2020 and the medium term to “optimise revenue collection.”

He said the government will pursue the following revenue measures, among others, to boost domestic revenue:

– Government shall renew and extend the National Fiscal Stabilisation Levy and Special Import Levies (SIL) for five years to support the Budget

– In line with Government policy, the personal income tax band will be adjusted and the necessary parliamentary approval sought to ensure that the 12% minimum wage increase for 2020 is tax-exempt.

– Personal Reliefs such as marriage relief, child education relief and old age relief, which were last adjusted in 2015, will also be reviewed upwards, consistent with the government’s commitment to supporting families.

To address the challenges of revenue mobilisation, Mr Ofori-Atta said the government would restructure the tax system and develop a comprehensive revenue policy and strategy.

“The Ghana Revenue Authority occupies a critical position in the economy and is responsible for approximately 70% of domestic revenues. After 10 years of integration, the government is ready to carry out the next generation of reforms in revenue administration,” he said.

Mr Ofori-Atta said a transformation programme centred around the three main themes of People, Technology, and Service will be structured with the new leadership of the GRA to create a  ‘NEW GRA’ that will reflect the very best of efficiency and productivity.