The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), in collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and others, has organised a two-day workshop for over 30 journalists in Accra.
The training’s aim was to examine ways in which public interest journalism and accountability reporting can support transparency and accountability in progressive taxation, domestic resource mobilisation and combatting illicit financial flows.
The training was carried out under the project ‘Tax for Development: Strengthening Civil Society and Media for Fiscal Justice’. Experts from the GRA and Financial Intelligence Centre enlightened participants on the operations of their organisations.
At the workshop’s opening section, Dr. Kojo Impraim, Director-Research and Advocacy-Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), congratulated the participants and stated why there it was necessary for journalists to participate in the workshop.
“We seek to work with you over the next three years to do more in-depth work around revenue mobilisation, progressive taxation and issues of illicit financial flows. These are very complex subjects,” he said.
“What I have come to understand is that we have the capacity to mobilise resources for development, both at the national and district levels,” he added.
Dr. Kojo Impraim acknowledged that some agencies are unable to mobilise resources: “Tamale Metropolis has the capacity to mobilise GH¢11million in a year for development; but they are woefully inadequate, with just about GH¢2million”.
Apart from that, Florence Asante, Assistant Commissioner-Communication and Public Affairs, Ghana Revenue Authority, seized the opportunity to educate journalists by clarifying the GRA does not make laws but rather enforces them.
“I need you to understand that taxes are creatures of law, and one thing about the law is it’s like dealing with a judge. Taxes are created and then the laws are implemented by us. If we do not enforce the law, what does it make us? It means that we won’t earn our salaries. So, the law says charge 10 percent and you tell me you want to pay 5 percent; as a GRA staff, what do you want me to do? I need to lock the shop so that you pay the 10 percent. Otherwise, I will be sanctioned,” she said.
Mrs. Asante also urged journalists to disseminate information about operations of the GRA until every citizen acquires full knowledge of it. This, she explained, will prevent people from going against the laws.
“We are teaching businesses how to do new things, how to follow the law and new things right. So, I think our media partners have a very good role to play because you are the ones who amplify what we do.
“If nobody hears about it, what have we done? You talk to 50 people, that’s it. If you are lucky, you talk to your spouse or your friends and that’s it – maybe 100 people. But the media can do a lot, amplifying the message to the masses,” she added.
Other partners of the workshop included Finance Uncovered, UK; Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Open Ownership, UK; and The Fourth Estate of the Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA).Read Full Story