A Research Analyst at the CDD-Ghana, Gilfred Asiamah, has stated that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) would not succeed in increasing revenue mobilization if it did not purge itself off corruption perceptions.
This follows the findings of the Afrobarometer report that showed that about 80% of Ghanaians have lost trust in the GRA.
The findings came at a time when the GRA was stepping up efforts to increase revenue collections to help close the fiscal deficit gap, which is estimated to end this year at 9.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and moderate the debt burden, which ended last year at GHS296.1 billion, equivalent to 76.1 per cent of GDP.
"If you want to intensify domestic revenue mobilization, then GRA has to be efficient and accountable. People need to trust them to be able to comply voluntarily and it is only when voluntary compliance is high that tax collection can also go up," Mr Asiamah said.
Efforts to sanitize the GRA, improve tax compliance and increase domestic revenue mobilizations, collections have over the years lagged behind targets, with the authority missing most of its annual yields. This has, however, placed Ghana among countries with a lower ratio of tax collection to GDP of around 12 per cent, compared to the Sub-Saharan Africa average of around 17 per cent.
"When people do not trust the collectors, they hardly pay and it means the GRA has to intensify efforts to enforce compliance. That comes at a cost and also reduces the possibility of higher revenue mobilisation," Mr Asiamah added.
Mr Asiamah further stated that the reasons for low collections could also be blamed on the public's perception of how the funds are used.
He said the survey further found that while people did not mind paying taxes, they were concerned about how the resources were used, explaining perceptions of improper utilization of taxes dampened the citizens' morale to pay.
"For example, when people pay the street light levy but walk in darkness, they begin to question the relevance of that tax," he said.