TAX EXEMPTIONS on import duty, import VAT, import NHIL and domestic VAT over the past eight years have grown from GH¢391.90 million (0.6% of GDP) in 2010 to GH¢4,662.36 million (1.6% of GDP) in 2018, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has said.
These figures do not include exemptions from the payment of corporate and individual income taxes, concessions on tax rates, petroleum tax reliefs, customs tax exemptions enjoyed by diplomatic missions and waiver of processing charges at the ports.
Also, these do not include a difference of about GH¢1 billion attributable to the FPSO that was brought into the country in 2017.
The GRA made this known at a two-day workshop it sponsored for members of the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) over the weekend in Koforidua, Eastern Region.
Daniel Nuer, an official of GRA, who took participants through the ‘Impact of Tax Waivers on Ghana’s Economy’, mentioned some factors that contributed to the situation. Chief among these included the lack of clear exemptions policy, exemption clauses in donor-funded projects, lack of sunset clauses for exemptions, exemptions granted government entities and public institutions, exemptions granted without recourse to the Ministry of Finance, abuse of exemptions, as well as inadequate reporting on tax expenditure.
He said to help arrest the canker, the GRA had proposed that where the private sector supplies goods, services or projects to the public sector, such supplies shall be priced at market prices and those private sector suppliers shall pay all taxes and import duties chargeable on those transactions.
It said businesses and investors that sought tax exemptions as a way of improving the viability or profitability of their businesses should be required to grant the state equity share equivalent to the tax and duty waivers granted by government.
It also called for the passage of an Exemptions Act to ensure that proper processes and procedures were put in place to provide transparency.
Mr. Nuer said the Ministry of Finance had commenced studies into the impact of all tax expenditure with an eye to redesigning expenditure such that Ghana got value for money.
Over the past two years, government had taken several steps to reduce the burden of this expenditure by introducing the ‘Pay-and-Come-for-Refund’ policy for six months in 2017, the presentation of an Exemptions Policy to Cabinet and the submission of an Exemptions Bill to Parliament.
BY Samuel Boadi