Take interest in tax justice, gender equality – Dr. Graham advises CSOs
Citizens should endeavor to show interest in how its tax revenues are utilized and invested to be well informed to demand optimum and equitable allocation, Dr. Yao Graham, Coordinator, Third World Network Africa (TWN Africa), has suggested.
According to him, with the IMF mission set to be in town, citizen alertness remains more critical and urged civil society groups (CSOs) including, the Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) to take an interest in how policies under the program are being designed to meet their expectations or any other CSOs in the country regarding tax justice and gender equality.
He made the call at a multisector forum and launched of Scaling Up Tax Justice III Campaign in Accra.
Speaking on ‘The Intersection of Gender Equality and Tax Justice in Ghana’, Dr. Graham, and situating one of his illustrations on taxation and accountability, explained that the informal terrain of the economy makes it difficult for individual taxation.
Another dimension, he pointed out is a huge dependence on mineral and oil export -in principle according to the constitution these minerals are owned publicly and held in trust by the people in power.
“If we take accountability logic, there should be a clear and continuous accountability to citizens for a quality of contract which are signed to guarantee the optimum economic return and the minimum negative environmental and social externalities, and also accountability in how the money is spent.”
Further, he touched on the crisis the country is facing which he describes as the worst economic crisis in its history.
And to him, the current IMF program comes with a major decision that has been taken or is about to be taken with important justice implications.
“.. but unless the tax justice, gender equality, gender justice movement takes an interest in how policies to deal with the crisis are being designed, we might wake up to discover that we are working on a terrain where key decisions have already been taken.
At any moment, when the IMF comes to town, citizens’ alertness is important the proposed measures are available and I will suggest that some work as part of this begins to ask questions about the gender and tax justice implications of the program. NETRIGHT could benefit from that and build alliances.”
Ghana is expected to undergo its first IMF program review by officials of the FUND from Monday, September 25, 2023.
Dr. Graham asserted that one systemic issue affecting the taxation regime is the fact that it is a primary commodity-based economy, and added that tax policies that have been promoted under neoliberalism, particularly in the dramatic period of structural adjustment very highly unfavorable, not only in terms of the consequences of people’s employment and also income generation but also effects on public revenue and the ability of the state to allocate resources equitably.
“So, in framing the tax justice conversation, I think we need this sense of history to see the continuities in how unjust tax policies, even though they were not framed as an attack on people, the result was that the consequences were unjust tax policies had negative consequences on people’s lives.”
Patricia Blankson Akakpo, the Head of the Secretariat Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) indicated that tax justice is tied to gender equality, which she stresses is not merely a matter of social justice, but a prerequisite for sustainable and inclusive development.
Fair taxation serves as a cornerstone for any functioning society, she noted.
“When these two forces, fair taxation, and gender equality converge they create a powerful catalyst for positive change.”
The SCUT III Campaign according to Ms.Akakpo aims to unite a broader action and mobilize action towards reforming tax systems, and seek to build a society where every woman and man, regardless of their background and circumstances can thrive and contribute to the betterment of their communities and our society.
Africa loses 17.8 percent of tax revenue due to tax expenditures, data shows. To that end, analysts have suggested effective and equitable tax systems are needed to address diverse groups and development needs.