Popular protests against the idea to keep Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah as Commissioner General of the (GRA) although he is due for retirement next month has been revived after Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Godfred Dame disclosed that the absence of effective systems by the revenue collection Authority is to be partly blamed for the phenomenon of some legal practitioners evading taxes.
“I must admit that, the failure of lawyers in Ghana to discharge their full tax obligations is not entirely their fault. The absence of effective systems by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to ensure that all potential tax payers are brought into the tax net is majorly responsible. The GRA ought to devise the appropriate mechanisms for ensuring that the tax net is broadened to its elastic limit in order to bring within it all potential tax payers including all practicing lawyers.
“Another part the lawyer ought to play in ensuring an effective revenue mobilisation is by aiding other taxpayers to know their tax obligations and not to fall short of the law”, Godfred Dame noted during his address at the 2021 Bar Conference of the Ghana Bar Association on Monday in Bolgatanga.
Though not by intent, the Attorney-General’s statement is an indictment on the current GRA headed by Rev. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah as Commissioner General of the (GRA).
The GRA Boss is due for retirement next month, October, 2021 in the wake of a strong argument from relevant stakeholders that he should be made to go home rather than maintained on contract bases to continue what has been largely described as a failed leadership.
Indeed there have been calls that Ammishaddai may have to save the Authority the current acrimony and simply bow out when there is still some level of applause for him rather than wait to be ousted through a popular protest.
Speaking at the same Bar Conference, President Akufo-Addo, in his keynote address said the necessity for increased mobilisation of resources for national development is crucial, especially as there are critical needs in all sectors in all parts of the country.
“Not too far from where we are gathered, torrential rains have caused havoc and washed away bridges and roads. Farms have been destroyed and investments have disappeared under flood waters. These are just new additions to an already difficult situation of a long list of infrastructural deficits that require a lot of money for their elimination,” he said.
The President continued, “COVID-19 has brought extra devastation to our fragile economies, and we have not seen the end of it to be able to say we can start counting our losses. The only certainty we do have is that we need a lot of resources to engender the rebuilding of the economy. Hence, the exceptional significance of Government’s Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme, which is seeking to raise GH¢100 billion from both public and private sectors to finance the revitalisation of our post-COVID economy.”
He was, thus, glad that the Ghana Bar Association has decided to enlist the undoubted strength of lawyers to help in the mobilization of resources through taxation, adding that “we have work to do to convince the people of Ghana that, if we are to get the developments that we all crave, then paying taxes must become a regular and unquestioning feature of our lives.”
With the theme of the Conference being “Ensuring an Increase in Revenue Mobilization through Taxation for the Purpose of Accelerated National Development”, President Akufo-Addo urged the outgoing President of the Bar, Anthony Forson Jnr, to start from getting members of the Bar to pay their taxes.
“The record of lawyers in paying taxes has been historically poor. It is unfortunate, but a most unpleasant fact, that members of the professions in our country have not been known to set a good example when it comes to paying taxes. They appear to think that being members of the learned professions put them above complying with every day civic duties, like paying taxes. It is embarrassing that lawyers are often at the top of the list of those who flout our tax laws, and use their expertise to avoid paying taxes,” he stressed.