Abuses and non-compliance with the various tax regimes and laws held the countryâ€™s provisional tax to GDP ratio for last year at 13.1 percent, which is far below the average of 20 percent, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has said.
He also revealed that Customs revenue, which was expected to grow in 2018 by 27.7 percent, saw a minimal growth of 3.9 percent provisionally.
In a speech read on his behalf at a shippersâ€™ sensitisation seminar in Accra, the finance minister tasked stakeholders in the shipping sector to ensure that the transit trade business is streamlined to grow for government to earn the requisite revenue accruing from the system.
The ministerâ€™s charge to players in the maritime logistics sector is in connection with abuses in the countryâ€™s transit trade system, which according to the Customs Division of the GRA robbed the economy of close to GHÂ¢2billion last year.
Unfair practices, including the diversion of goods and the non-declaration of goods that are originally meant for transit but eventually find their way onto the domestic market, accounted for that loss.
The minister said: â€œLetâ€™s ensure that we all contribute our fair share to the development of this nation. The maxim now is that we should all pay the right amount of taxes; no more, no less.
â€œGovernment will continually put in place several systems to support the transit trade sector and at the same time stem the abuses which are arising out the fact that duties are not being paid on those goods.â€
The minister also encouraged the shipping community to rededicate itself to strengthening the capacity of national institutions for effective implementation of the transit regime in Ghana.
He said measures are being put in place to ensure compliance with tax regimes and laws, and that persons who try to abuse the tax regimes will be dealt with severely.
â€œThe measures will be both administrative and judicial. So, those who flout the laws and the tax paying public are being put on notice that 2019 will not be business as usual. It will not be a tap on the wrist for those who try to abuse the countryâ€™s tax system,â€ he said.
The stakeholder sensitisation seminar on transit trade was organised by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) on the theme â€˜Streamlining processes for the growth of transit trade in Ghanaâ€™.
It brought together all stakeholders in the transit trade business â€“ transiters, freight forwarders and transporters to help redefine operational requirements and re-emphasise effective Customs control of the sector within the dual objective of revenue assurance and trade facilitation.