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Less than 10% of Ghana’s 30.8m population is paying tax – Ofori-Atta laments

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The Finance Minister painted a dire picture of the revenue mobilisation hurdles Ghana has to surmount in its bid to become a country beyond aid.

Less than 10 percent of Ghana’s 30.8 million population pay direct taxes, in a situation Ken Ofori-Atta said was “a poor reflection” on the country when compared to other middle-income countries.

“Only 2,364,348 are bearing the burden of the entire population as taxpayers as of August 2021,” he outlined in his budget presentation in Parliament on Wednesday.

This figure is informed by the 2021 Population and Housing Census.

The Minister juxtaposed this figure with the registered voter population of 17 million, which gives an indication of the number of Ghanaians aged 18 and over.

This is a trend that needs to be addressed “to build a more equitable society,” Mr. Ofori-Atta stressed.

Giving a further breakdown, the Minister indicated that only 45,109 entities are registered as corporate taxpayers.

Only 54,364 persons are registered as self-employed taxpayers at the Ghana Revenue Authority, and only 136,198 entities are registered businesses at the Registrar-General’s Department as at August 2021, of which 80 percent are self-employed, the Minister added.

According to the figures the Finance Minister presented, the Greater Accra Region contributes almost 90 percent of Ghana’s domestic tax as of June 2021.

Over the last three years, the Greater Accra Region has contributed an average of 89 percent.

“The Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions together contribute barely to 3 percent of domestic taxes,” he added.

Mr. Ofori-Atta urged the country to resolve that “by the next census, we should have changed these statistics to become an Upper Middle-Income Country in line with our Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.”

“We must eclipse a 20% threshold of revenue to GDP ratio by 2024,” he noted as a target.

Earlier in the budget presentation, Mr. Ofori-Atta said this will require that “we share the burden so that every adult Ghanaian will contribute to the delivery of critical infrastructure, social services and improve lives.”

“This revenue mobilisation must be a collective effort, and we must all contribute to make this a reality,” he added.

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