Government has tasked the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to mobilise ¢80.3 billion as revenue for the 2022 financial year.
The GRA exceeded its 2021 revenue target of ¢57.32 billion. Mr George Swanzy Winful, who represented Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance at the International Customs Day (ICD) Celebration, said the government commended the management of GRA for exceeding the 2021 revenue targets.
He said the performance of the Authority in 2021 has reposed the government’s confidence in them to again exceed the new target.
January 26 marks the celebration of ICD across the world with the United Nations as the host.
It is an annual event that is meant to acknowledge and appreciate the role that customs officials and agencies play in ensuring the smooth flow of goods across the world borders.
The endeavour is to emphasis the working conditions and challenges that customs officers face in their jobs. The event was on the theme: “Scaling up customs digital transformation by embracing a data culture and building a data ecosystem.”
Mr Ofori-Atta said the digitalization programme had seen the introduction of several systems, including the implementation of the Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) and the Ghana.gov platform.
He said digitalisation had enhanced customs processes and also reduced revenue leakages at the ports.
The Minister said notwithstanding the successes of these systems, “l am confident that there is more GRA, and the Customs Division can do to further enhance its level of efficiency.”
He said the theme was very appropriate because a good database would ensure that the country’s revenue forecasts did not deviate from its actual collections and this also guaranteed economic stability.
Undoubtedly, the role of technology is very crucial, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority has embraced advanced technologies, which has brought up major innovative ways to implement effective controls in processes and procedures, he said.
The Minister expressed the hope that the GRA and for that matter, the Customs Division would pay particular attention to adopting the data culture, and innovative technologies to help move GRA’s revenue mobilisation to another level.
“The Ministry of Finance will continue to support the various initiatives of GRA on the digitalisation drive to ensure that the needed revenue is effectively and efficiently mobilised,” he added.
Reverend Dr. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, the Commissioner-General of GRA, said the theme was very much welcomed as it was within GRA’s transformation agenda.
He said looking at where the country was now with the effect of Covid-19 in the global economy, the data culture and data ecosystem was very appropriate and relevant for national development.
Over the years, the Customs Division of GRA has embraced advanced technologies, bringing up major innovative ways to implement effective controls to enhance and accelerate processes.
He said GRA had embarked on a transformational agenda, central to this has been the need to implement tax policy reforms.
These are the introduction of the ICUMS at the country’s ports to block all revenue loopholes and facilitate trade and the introduction of the cashless system, among others.
The Commissioner-General said the international customs community was becoming more concerned and involved in issues of data culture, which would go a long way to help customs administrations perform optimally in their assigned roles of revenue collection, trade facilitation, international trade processes and public and health safety.
“Let us be driven by improved technology and customer-oriented service to all stakeholders to help improve revenue mobilisation to move the country forward,” he added.
Col Kwadwo Damoah (Rtd), the Commissioner, Customs Division, reading the speech of the Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, said over the years, digital technology had evolved rapidly, and Customs could now tap into data from other government agencies, commercially available databases, and open-source information platforms such as digitized global public records and multilingual news sources.
He said the extent to which data could be used effectively depended on various factors surrounding data ethics, including privacy, commercial secrecy, and legal issues regarding the use of data by customs and tax administrations and the importance assigned to innovation in public administrations.
Dr Mikuriya said to build data ecosystems or consolidate existing ones, the following enabling actions such as establishing formal data governance to ensure the relevance, accuracy, and timeliness of data and making use of the standards developed by the WCO and other institutions regarding data format and data exchange.
Others are providing appropriate management of data to ensure that the right people have access to the right data, and that data protection regulations are respected and adopting progressive approaches, such as data analytics, to collect and successfully exploit data to drive decision-making.