Tax Dialogue Committee inaugurated

The inaugurated Tax Dialogue Committee has begun work in earnest as stakeholders deliberated on issues affecting them moments after the inauguration.

What was to be just an inauguration ceremony turned into a mini sitting of the committee as members raised and discussed some pertinent tax issues that needed to be addressed to ensure effective tax compliance.

One important issue that was discussed was the implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN), which is currently being implemented.

Mr. Joseph Obeng, President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), and a member of the Committee, during the discussions at the inauguration on Tuesday, said it was important for government to thoroughly think through the implementation of the CTN and if it decides to fully implement it, to remove the existing benchmarks and discretions in determining duties to be paid on cargo at the ports.

According to him, government must remove benchmarks and others discretionary means of determining duties if it believes in the viability of the CTN to give the actual value of the goods for tax purposes.

He said government must also ensure that it can sustain bearing the cost of the use of the CTN, which is estimated at about a $100 per container and which is being borne by government during the implementation period.

He said the CTN was being implemented to address the challenge of importers undervaluing their cargo, by getting the exact value of the cargo from suppliers.

“If we say that we’re using CTN as a problem-solver, then we’re saying that the benchmarks and the discretions at the port should be a thing of the past, and we are seeking a memorandum of understanding to that effect before we roll out with the CTN,” he said.

He explained that using the CTN and keeping the benchmark and discretionary regime at the port will be punishing the importer unnecessarily, adding that, importers will also not be ready to bear any cost element for the CTN.

Mr. Obeng commended the setting up of the Tax Dialogue Committee, saying that, continued engagement with the committee will help to solve many issues in tax compliance.

Mr. Ken Ofori Atta, Minister of Finance, who inaugurated the Committee, said he was confident that the implementation of the CTN will bring in higher tax revenues as it will give the actual value of the cargo.

He assured GUTA and other stakeholders that the Ministry will have further discussions with them on the CTN to ensure equity and fairness in its implementation.

He, however, urged them to keep an open mind on the cost aspect of the CTN and to work together with them to address the challenge.

Mr. Ofori Atta said the formation of the Tax Dialogue Committee, made up of representatives of trade associations, consultants, tax advisors, academicians, the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance, will provide a platform for key counterparts in tax administration to dialogue periodically to resolve tax administration issues.

He said the tax dialogue, which began this year, had helped to improve the speed of payment of VAT refunds, payment of due refunds through bank transfers instead of cheques and the development of an institutional database of tax rulings to avoid duplicating and conflicting, among others.

He noted that the Tax Dialogue Committee, and other Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, which is being set up, will help to settle disputes that are likely to arise as Ghana makes efforts to improve revenue generation.

The independent Appeals Board, he said, had received cabinet approval and is currently at the Attorney-General’s Department. “The Bill is expected to be passed by the end of the year,” he said.

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