A study by the GIZ Governance for Inclusive Development (GovID) has shown that Religious and traditional leaders are ideally positioned to shape public behaviour and opinion on fulfilling civic duties such as paying taxes.
The study, ‘Promoting Accountable Governance through Active Engagement with Religious Actors on National and Local Level Taxes’ is to establish an ongoing dialogue on public revenue and public spending between religious leaders, the revenue administration, and other relevant political actors at the national and local levels.
It examined how religious and traditional leaders could be used to support the mobilization of domestic revenue in Ghana.
The involvement of the religious and traditional leaders will offer the government an additional channel of communication with the public to improve tax compliance and, thus, better achieve its revenue targets.
It will also allow communities of faith to voice their interests and concerns on public revenue and spending and political actors to address citizens’ concerns and discuss their policy priorities.
Commenting on the study, Raphael Frerking, Programme Manager, Governance for Inclusive Development (GovID) – GIZ Ghana, said the traditional and religious leaders and their role in taxpayer education had been ignored.
He said the baseline study, however, showed that religious actors have a key role to play in the revenue mobilization drive.
“We found that the trust many citizens place in them makes them interesting stakeholders that can also play a crucial role in increased tax compliance in emphasizing the linkages between tax payments, accountability, and successful governance,” he said.
Additionally, we realised that an enhanced dialogue between state actors and religious communities could build on the good and peaceful relations between religious and ethnic groups that Ghana rightfully takes pride in, while at the same time helping to preserve social cohesion and internal peace for the future.
He said while religious leaders are willing to ‘tie the knot’ with GRA in Taxpayer Education, they needed to enhance continuous capacity on TPE, Knowledgeable resource persons and active engagement with the GRA and MMDAs.
The study noted that GRA was making good progress with its communications materials but needed to customize materials for different segments of the population such as the communities of faith and develop messaging that can engage effectively with the youth on social media.