A tax expert with audit firm PwC, Abeku Gyan-Quansah, says government must aggressively pursue the rationalisation of tax exemptions if it is to meet this year’s revenue target.
According to the 2021 budget presented to Parliament last week, government wants to raise nearly GH¢71bn in domestic revenue—a target which is more than 32 percent of what was collected last year.
The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who presented the budget, explained that revenue reforms such as intensification of tax audits by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) would help the state to achieve its target.
But Mr. Gyan-Quansah said government has to equally prioritise the passage of the Tax Exemptions Bill which has been in the works since 2019.
“This tax exemptions bill has been in Parliament for too long. It has actually died and now we need to go and resurrect it. So much as you are going to intensify audits, know that you have an exemptions bill which should deal with matters of exemptions.”
According to conservative estimates, as of 2018 the country was losing more than GH¢4.6bn in tax waivers granted to individuals and organisations.
While a bill to rationalise these exemptions was laid before Parliament in 2019, the legislature’s inability to pass it means that the Finance Ministry will have to resubmit it for consideration.
“We hope that government’s commitment to passing this bill will be stronger this time around. This bill lays down clear processes a person can go through to obtain tax exemptions and disables other bodies from purporting to grant tax exemptions,” Mr. Gyan-Quansah said.
Commenting on the 2021 budget, the Senior Country Partner of PwC, Vish Ashiagbor, commended the Ministry of Finance for putting forward a budget that seeks to build on the marginal GDP growth of 0.9 percent achieved last year amidst the pandemic.
He said government’s growth target of 5 percent for 2021 appears feasible if the progress made despite the pandemic last year is consolidated.