By Cecil Mensah
Tax experts in Africa have converged in Accra at a symposium organized by International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) to find measures to fight tax avoidance and to proffer strategies through which various African governments can increase their tax revenue.
The symposium was the third in series of bringing together tax experts to do solid analytical debate on the trends in international taxation and the African perspectives.
The symposium had earlier been held in Zambia, Uganda and the Ghana one saw 17 African countries participating.
Key participating countries were Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Egypt, Sierra-Leone, Senegal, Zambia and South Africa.
The symposium, supported by West African Tax Administrations Forum (WATAF), debated the following topics: transforming international tax rules; transfer pricing in the post-Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEEPS) era – changes and impact on governments and business; investing in Africa; taxation of the extractive industry; domestic resource mobilization in Africa; and role of tax treaties.
Speaking to kickstart the symposium, Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti, the Commissioner -General of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), said the aim of the symposium, which was to examine dynamic and interactive ways on taxation, was laudable.
He said Ghana over the years has been adjudged a middle income country and has not been able to access donor assistance so tax becomes the only avenue for government to raise funds for development.
According to him, taxation is a prime mover of most of the economies on the continent so there is the need to learn new techniques and methods of taxation.
He explained that taxation has become very challenging in recent times because of the new techniques that have been introduced into the sector.
Belema Obuoforibo, Director at IBDF Knowledge Centre, said “We are confronted with an era of great change, which has created a challenging and dynamic arena in the world of international taxation.
“In this arena, IBFD continues to seek ways to apply our experience in the field of international taxation, remaining motivated to share our knowledge, with a special focus on Africa.”
She said the symposium offered inspiring series of discussions on issues of great importance to both international and African taxation.
She noted that these discussions are now of even greater importance following the debates and recommendations around the BEPS project.
This year’s symposium put forward an accumulated knowledge and experience in the field of international taxation to work, building on the success of the previous two symposiums and create a responsive, tailored programme for Africa.
On his part, Ron Striker, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands said his country has supported Ghana Revenue Authority with the context of the Tax Inspectors without Borders programme over the years.
He noted that the kingdom has supported several local cities in raising local taxes and made sure African countries do not lose tax through tax avoidance.