The Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has said the revenue target for the year is in arrears of about six per cent but efforts are underway to ensure recovery before the year ends.
He pointed to the recent re-engineering at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the digitisation of the economy and a disciplined expenditure regime as some of the efforts to turn things around.
Mr Ofori-Atta was speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where he is attending the 54th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“I think we are behind in about two to three per cent, maybe six per cent of target, but, as you know, it was last week we announced three new commissioners and also rotated about a thousand people in the revenue services.
“I think we are now on course. We’ve watched this thing for 30 months, we’ve seen how it operates and we’ve brought a whole new regime and we are going to test it and push to see how the system responds,” he said.
He expressed the belief that people were ready to do the right things, except that they needed supervision. “I’m so excited about the future,” he added.
Re-engineering at GRA
Asked if the human factor was so key to the failure to achieve revenue targets, beyond the structural difficulties facing revenue mobilisation, as to warrant the level of re-engineering that shook the leadership of the GRA, the minister minced no words in stressing his conviction.
“Yes, the human factor is key, and that is why the change of the three commissioners has come about. We are about 12-and-a-half per cent of revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and we really should be close to maybe 20 per cent. So if you look at an organisation that rakes in GH¢37 billion and you are 12-and-a-half per cent and you should be around 20 per cent, that is another maybe 10-odd billion that could come in,” he said.
The GRA, at the beginning of the month, saw its Commissioner for Domestic tax Revenue, Mr Kwesi Gyimah Asante; the Commissioner for the Customs Division, Mr Isaac Crentsil, and the Commissioner for the Support Services Division, Mr Fred Charles Anson, all reassigned to the Finance Ministry, while other junior officers were also reassigned.
Their replacements — Mr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, the acting Commissioner for the Domestic Tax Revenue Division; Colonel Kwadwo Damoah (retd), the acting Commissioner, Customs Division, and Ms Julie Essiam, the acting Commissioner, Support Services Division — are a blend of private and public sector practitioners who the Finance Minister hopes should bring in the needed results.
“Yes, we got a couple of bankers and a military person… it’s worth trying. We’ve had people from inside for a long time and so let’s see how this works. My expectation is that it will be more targeted, more KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and more focus.
“And also they will not have any sort of traditional ties and we hope that will help them become more objective,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.