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Automatic Exchange of Information initiative takes off September 2019

Ghana has reiterated its commitment to tax transparency and pledged to implement the Automatic Exchange of Information standard under the Africa Initiative (AEOI) of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of information for tax purposes, in September 2019.

Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng, in a statement on behalf of the Minister at the opening of the African Initiative Taskforce in Accra, on Wednesday, said Ghana was committed to tax transparency and the exchange of information.

Ghana was in the process of putting in place the necessary frameworks to enable it to implement the AEOI.

He said the legal framework; Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Accounting Information Act 2018 (Act 967) was in place. The law will compel reporting financial institutions to collect and submit information to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

“A committee has been set up to ensure a smooth implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Information. We have targeted September 2019 as the date for implementation,” he stated.

He said information-sharing and data-matching have the potential to improve revenue and curbing illicit financial flows on both domestic and international fronts.

He said the Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa is estimated at about $50 billion per annum, approximately double of what it gets in official development assistance. Between 2000 and 2008, $252 billion in IFFs was from the extractive sector in Africa.

He added that domestic revenue mobilisation was at the core of Ghana’s and other African countries’ agenda to move beyond aid and this would not be realized without cooperation between African countries on transparency and sharing of information for tax purposes.

Mr. Kwarteng said Ghana was also working to improve its ranking on the Global Forum Peer Review, which was downgraded from largely compliant in 2014 to partially compliant in 2018.

“We were not pleased with the overall rating and so have outlined a detailed action plan, which addresses all the concerns and recommendations from the report and tasked the respective government agencies to take remedial action,” he said.

Ms. Monica Bhatia, Head of the Global Forum, said tax evasions and IFFs affect the ability of developing countries to mobilise revenue domestically, especially as more money flows out than what comes in through aid. This hampers the ability of governments to provide basic services to its citizens.

“The fight against tax evasion is intended to help countries raise their own revenue,” she said.

She said during the conference, countries gathered will discuss steps and tools; the most important one being transparency, that are already being used elsewhere and how they can use those tools for their own benefit.

Ms. Bhatia said while significant progress had been made under the Africa Initiative, with many countries signing agreements to exchange information to be used for tax investigations, the challenge in Africa was that, countries were not requesting for information as others were doing in some parts of the world.

She said the Initiative was also focusing on encouraging African countries to ask for information that would help them to stem tax evasions and Illicit Financial Flows.

About 74 delegates from 27 countries are participating in the two-day conference.

 

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