Invest in reliable data to enhance data collection - expert counsels

Invest in reliable data to enhance data collection - expert counsels
Source: BFT
Date: 26-11-2014 Time: 07:11:24:am

Senior Lecturer Department of Accounting and Finance, School of Business, University of Cape Coast, John Gatsi, has said a comprehensive and reliable national identification system is fundamental to rope-in the informal sector for tax purposes.

Dr. Gatsi, speaking at a budget advocacy programme organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) and the Ministry of Finance said: “We need a national identification system in place in order to widen the tax net. We need to invest in that infrastructure”.

Though over eighty percent of businesses in the country are micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, controlling over 50 percent of the total cash in the economy, Finance Ministry data indicates that only 1.5 million people pay direct tax in the country.

Various measures have been proposed by experts for widening the tax net to cover the large informal sector that employs the majority of the population, with very little success.

Initial attempts at establishing a national identification system have been unsuccessful. Following the change in hierarchy of the National Identification Authority (NIA), it is currently seeking US$115million

The amount, is to assist the Authority to complete NIA's identity management ecosystem and to do such things as harmonising and integrating all existing biometric databases within the public service; help establish regional and zonal offices; establish a biometric institute to be affiliated to a public university; and procure mobile registration vans.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and government both agree that curbing central government's expenditure and mobilising enough domestic revenue is crucial in achieving fiscal consolidation and bringing the economy back on track.

The Fund, as part of on­going discussions on a three-year programme with the government of Ghana, is impressing on government to check fiscal excesses and raise revenue.

Deputy Finance Minister Mrs. Mona Quartey said: “The 2015 budget is a guide, a plan that we want to focus on. Transformation is a journey not a destination. The consumption tax we introduced in the 2015 budget is to help us access the Small and Medium Scale enterprises (SMEs) and the private sector that are not yet in the formal sector.

“SMEs must come into the formal sector and enjoy incentives even as they pay the VAT on fuel,” the Deputy Finance Minister said.

Among the tax policies proposed in the 2015 budget to broaden the tax base, especially to rope-in the informal sector, are the imposition of a 17.5 percent VAT on petroleum products, the extension of a five percent National Fiscal Stabilisation, and Special Import Levies of 1-2 percent until 2017.

A five percent flat VAT rate on real-estate and increasing the withholding tax on Director's remunerations from 10 percent to 20 percent are both tax measures to ensure government maximises revenue generation.

The five percent flat VAT rate is expected to generate GH₵30million in revenue next year, while the VAT on fee-based financial services is expected to amass GH₵200million.

Government is targetting an estimated total non-oil revenue and grants of GH₵26,104.6million, equivalent to 21.2 percent of non-oil GDP for the 2015 fiscal year. Domestic revenue for 2015, made up of tax and non-tax revenue, is estimated at GH₵30,855.4million -- 28.9 percent higher than the projected outturn for 2014.

Total tax revenue for the 2015 fiscal year is estimated at GH₵25,406million, representing 18.8 percent of GDP.