Bagbin suggests ways Finance Minister can capture informal sector in tax net

The Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin has suggested ways in which the Finance Minister can include all those in the informal sector into the tax net.

The Speaker observed that a large number of people in the informal sector of the economy are outside of the tax net.

Due to no documentation on them, the government is unable to capture them in the tax net, he said.

In a meeting with the management of Media General in Accra on Thursday, June 29, the Speaker said “The whole nation, I represent their views so I listen to all the angels and I also read and study.

“I made it known to the Finance Minister long ago that there are so many areas where we can raise revenue, not e-levy. But if you wanted to use e-levy, let us start from zero point something percent and then go up.  You have an informal economy where a large percentage of the people are outside the tax net. Because of no documentation, you will never know their income, there are things that you have to do to bring them to the formal sector. I suggested to him the lottery tax.

“The Lottery Tax is very simple, you use tax receipt numbers to play the lotto and every week, one tax receipt number will win and you can give a pickup to the person. So everybody now comes in because the person wants to win a pickup and so they start issuing receipts.

“And so they formalize the informal businesses. Countries have done it, Malaysia and the rest and they jumped, over 500 percent increase in revenue. I discussed this with the Minister.”

He added “Look at insurance, there are countries that have moved on now and said any person flying into their country you have to take medical insurance and that is factored into your ticket.

“So in case you land and there is a problem they just rush you to the hospital and treat you because you are insured. Nigeria and the rest, they have taken that, that is another way of raising revenue. The other one is like fumigation, you are in the plane and they do fumigation when you come out on your luggage, they put some $7 on fumigation, that is another way of earning revenue. Look at gaming, the Gaming Commission, there is a lot of money in the gaming sector but you are not taxing them, many countries are taxing them and they are getting a lot of revenue.

“So I had the opportunity to sit with the Finance Minister to discuss other ways, and that is one of the reasons why we have established, now in Parliament, the Ways and Means Committee. They will assist the executive to look at it because we pass the tax laws, it is not the executive.

“One of the areas is narcotics, wee because they use it in pharmaceuticals. Now you go for a surgical operation and most of the things they inject you with are from wee, the place becomes numb so when they cut you don’t feel anything at all.

“We put a small percentage 0. something when we were passing the Narcotics Control Commission Act, then they went and said immorality and they got somebody to take us to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court without checking with us said that Clause was not debated, and by Article 106, it means it is unconstitutional because it didn’t follow the procedure of debate.

“And So I called these judges and I told them, I don’t understand them, who debates what is agreed upon? When you are writing your judgments and you go and the lead judge writes his opinion and comes to read to you all and you all agree, do you debate it? No. So we debate things that we disagree with, things that we agree you don’t debate it. The constitutional provisions don’t say that everything must be debated even when there is a disagreement, it does make sense. But they struck out that section from the Narcotics Control Commission Act and so we lost. Canada uses it a lot to generate revenue and we had a lot of businessmen who wanted to invest in Ghana because this one is legal and could be controlled, it is only used for pharmaceuticals and you will earn a lot of money. So there are many ways to raise revenue, not e-levy.

“We tried to get the Finance Minister this thing but he would not understand it. we are looking more outside than inside [for revenue].”