Civil society and government alone cannot resolve inequality and poverty, Dr Alex Ampaabeng, Fiscal Policy Analyst of Oxfam in Ghana, a charitable Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) committed to global poverty alleviation, has noted.
Governments, Dr Ampaabeng said, therefore, required sufficient and continuous revenue streams, of which tax was a major source, to fund essential public services such as healthcare and education for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens to raise living standards, promote gender equality and build well-functioning and stable economies.
He made reference to Goal 17 of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which recognises the need for urgent action to mobilise, redirect and unlock the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources to deliver on sustainable development objectives.
He said one of the targets and indicators set out under SDG 17 related to finance and strengthening domestic resource mobilisation, including through international support to developing countries, to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection.
Dr Ampaabeng noted that while many businesses in the past had viewed tax as a burden and a cost to minimise, responsible businesses were now increasingly recognising that well-functioning tax systems were critical for growing modern and inclusive economies, where both society and business thrived.
He said Oxfam in Ghana believed that responsible tax practices would promote sustainable domestic revenue which would support spending in critical areas.
He, therefore, urged private sector actors to think beyond profit and pursue genuine social impact, which involves responsible tax and business practices, to invest in sustainable development and the future of businesses, respect fundamental human rights and mitigate risk.
Dr Ampaabeng reminded government of its role in ensuring that the tax compliance process was clear to ensure an efficient compliance process with minimum challenges to the tax payer, adding that active collaborative engagement was essential between all stakeholders of the tax system.
He was addressing participants at a forum dubbed: The Tax Dialogue Series, organized under the Ghana Tax Dialogue (GTD) Project in Accra on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.
About 30 participants, representing companies, professional accountancy bodies and the academia?key stakeholders within the Ghana tax system?attended the meeting which was organized by Oxfam in Ghana on the theme: How should a fair tax system look like?
GTD, a project to be implemented on the theme: Creating a Fair, Efficient, Modern and Transparent Taxation (FREMT) system through private sector actions and public policies, forms part of Oxfam’s broader Active Citizenship and Accountable Governance Programme.
GTD aims to explore the understanding of responsible tax practice in Ghana; identify key challenges and opportunities for responsible taxation in Ghana, where corporate leadership could make a difference; discuss key challenges facing companies in fulfilling their tax obligations in Ghana; and agree on a benchmark to assess and rank companies on tax responsibility in Ghana.
The project also aims to promote good corporate tax practices, mainly tax transparency and tax responsibility, and contribute to promoting an effective tax administration and a responsive and efficient tax system in Ghana through engagement with the Ghana Revenue Authority on policies.
The project is currently being piloted in only two African countries?Ghana and Kenya?having been so successful in Denmark since its inception in 2014.
Welcoming participants to the forum, Mr Mohammed-Anwar Sadat Adam, Head of Programmes, Oxfam in Ghana, disclosed that as part of the Project, Oxfam in Ghana was developing a ranking index called the Ghana Responsible Tax Index (GRTI), comprising sets of principles for companies to adopt.
Mr Adam, said as an initiative at its design stage, inputs were required from participants for use to enhance transparency and responsibility within the tax system in Ghana.
Source: Government of Ghana