The government ended the first quarter of this year mobilising a little over GH¢10 billion which is about GH¢2 billion short of its GH¢12 billion target for the first three months of 2019.
But the minister while speaking at the Annual African Development Bank meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea insisted that some measures that they are currently implementing together with ongoing reforms at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) would help improve the numbers in the coming months.
Ghana over the years has had some challenges with revenue mobilization in terms of raising the required taxes to march the level of economic activities.
Government last year projected to collect about GH¢40 billion but missed out on this target by a little over 5%.
The Country’s tax-to-GDP ratio is around 12%, even though according to the Finance Minister, the government should be doing about 20%.
There have been calls on government to review the tax exemptions granted to investors and businesses, which experts say is causing it to lose more than $2 billion.
While some analysts blamed this challenge on the current structure of the economy which makes it difficult to mobilise the required revenue, others have blamed it on the mechanism used to collect these taxes.
The minister hence maintained that a lot of planning and strategy has gone into dealing with these problems, and he is optimistic that measures instituted so far would start yielding the desired results even before the end of this year.
As part of measures to deal with the situation, the finance minister said his ministry recently made some changes in the Ghana Revenue Authority.
The 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 of GRA were reassigned to the finance ministry.
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.
The ministry also moved some 1000 persons at GRA.
Although some industry watchers have criticised this move arguing that the challenge with revenue mobilisation is not a personal issue but rather structural one, the Finance minister disagrees.
He said the government’s initial engagement has established that there is a human factor in dealing with the revenue challenges facing the country.
“We had people from inside for a long time and I believe the time has come to try some fresh hands to help with revenue mobilization,” he said, adding that, “With these changes, things would be more targeted this time around because these new people don’t have any traditional ties with GRA and my expectation is that this could help with the situation at the Authority and as well help us to meet the revenue target for the year.”