October 10, 2013 (Page 56)
A justice of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal of India, Mr Justice Promad Kumar, has commended the Judicial Service for setting up specialised courts in the country.
Specialised courts currently in operation in the country include the Commercial, Financial, Land, Labour, Human Rights and Domestic Violence courts.
The latest addition is the Tax Court, which has been established to cater for tax-related issues.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a two-day training programme for judges on taxation in Accra, Justice Kumar described Ghana’s judiciary as pragmatic and among the few judiciaries in developing countries that had established tax courts.
The training workshop was organised by the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana to equip the participants with new skills to efficiently tackle tax issues in their various courts.
Justice Kumar took the participants through international tax regimes, shared India’s experiences with the participants and pointed out the mistakes and successes of the Indian system.
Topics treated included: Basics of international taxation; A typical tax treaty and its various clauses; Introduction to transfer pricing; Pricing concepts and theory, and Practical real life experiences on tax issues.
Earlier, Mr Justice Kumar had paid a courtesy call on the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.
Addressing the opening session of the workshop, a Supreme Court Judge, Mr Justice Jones Victor M. Dotse, tasked the participants to actively participate in the training sessions and make the appropriate recommendations if they found a vacuum in the tax laws of the country.
“We need revenue to sustain the economy and any reform geared towards raising more revenue for the country will be welcome,” Justice Dotse stated.
He advised the participants to form a core group of trainers of trainees in order to share what they learnt during the training with other justices.
A Justice of the Court of Appeal, Mrs Justice Margaret Welbourne, said the workshop provided the opportunity for the justices to indicate what was expected of tax officers in the country.
“We will come out with recommendations on reforming some of the regulations and laws and also hope to build the capacity of judges,” she added.
The President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana, Mr Mike Kofi Afflu, said the institute mooted the idea of the establishment of special tax courts and expressed gratitude to the Chief Justice and the Judicial Service for accepting the idea.
He said with the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in Ghana, it was important for the country to brace itself in a way that would prevent multinational companies from taking advantage of the system to evade tax.
“We hope to equip judges with skills to assist the tax courts to be able to properly adjudicate over tax cases for the benefit of the country,” he said.
For his part, an Assistant Commissioner of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Cephas Odartey, said it was the desire of the GRA to raise more revenue for government programmes and was hopeful that the training would help to achieve that objective.