A three-year campaign project aimed at promoting a fair and equitable tax revenue mobilisation in the country has been launched in Accra.
Known as “The Scaling Up Tax Justice III (SCUT III) project”, the Africa Regional-level tax justice campaign is being implemented in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Liberia, Senegal, Cameron and Tunisia.
The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) is collaborating with Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) to implement the project in Ghana.
The project, which is in its third phase, is also aimed at improving policies and laws to track and stop illicit financial flows, and also strengthen social contracts in the nine project countries.
At a forum to launch the project, the Head of NETRIGHT Secretariat, Patricia Blankson Akakpo, said the organisation's work on SCUT IlI would focus on advancing a gender equitable tax regime by promoting a fair and transparent tax system.
She said they would empower Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media to advocate a gender-responsive tax system that would ensure equal opportunities and resources for all citizens.
“With the support of trained tax justice champions, local communities will be engaged on gender equality and tax-related matters and encourage citizen participation in governance and tax-related decisions,” she said.
She added that their aim was to ignite a broader conversation and mobilise action towards reforming our tax system.
The forum was on the theme “Advancing Gender Equality through Fair Taxation: A Multi Sector Approach for Inclusive Development.
Mrs Akakpo said the project would engage and influence policymakers to enact gender-responsive tax policies that consider the specific needs and challenges faced by women in the country.
She said they would undertake two studies during the project focusing on the country’s tax system from a gender perspective and emerging issues that might come out during the campaign.
“We will also engage parliament and other key stakeholders such as the Ghana Chapter of the African Parliamentary Network on illicit Financial Flows and Taxation (APNIFFT),” she said.
The Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa, Dr Yao Graham, urged that conversations on tax justice and gender equality must be situated on the country’s economic structure.
“Structurally, Ghana is a primary commodity export dependent economy, dominated by transnational corporations, and state policy has constantly sought to prioritise the interest of such sectors.”
“Talking of tax incentives, it is the transnational corporation who gets the best tax breaks,” he said.
He also urged that the campaign be focused on the extractive sector, as it raised important tax justice issues which affected the lives of ordinary people.
He added that the activities of the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) must also be prioritised.
“The MIIF has become a self-regulating entity, investing here and there…
The MIIF is a very important revenue handling body whose spending has important implications of how our tax revenue is allocated,” he said.
He urged NETRIGHT and TJNA to pay attention to the debt crisis in the country as well as the IMF programme where some major decisions were being taken with importance to tax justice implications.
The Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Mary Awelana Addah, also urged that the campaign must focus attention on discrimination on salaries.