Major tax conference not attended by govt

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The organizers of the high level conference on taxation issues are disappointed by the absence of relevant government representatives in what is a priority agenda for the country.
The conference with the title: ‘challenges and solutions of taxation for promoting business related investment and four national building in Ethiopia: politics, law and practices’ held on Friday January 25 at Sapphire Addis Hotel organized by Afro-Global Consultancy Services (AGS), a recently formed organization to work on tax, finance and related issues, in collaboration with public and private organizations including the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD), based in Amsterdam.
During the full day event several papers focused on laws and policies of the taxation system, macro economics, fiscal, monetary policy, and identifying and tackling challenges that the country faces regarding taxes. It also featured inclusive panel discussions.
Even though the high level event attracted several participants the organizers expressed their disappointment because of the absence of several top government officials.
Fisseha-Tsion Menghistu (Prof), President and CEO of AGS, said that the expected individuals did not appear at the event, but the event is crucial and timely for the country.
Fisseha-Tsion, who has a half a century of experience in tax, investment and finance, said that the government should consider these kinds of issues to be a priority;
“I don’t want to accuse them for now but they need to give attention and support the sector for the future,” he told Capital.
“The government needs to consult from Ethiopian scholars with wide expertise, who are independent and working for their country. The government is expected to work closely with us,” he claimed.
He complained that the top officials at the government apparatuses do not know their future agenda. “Some of them were willing to participate at our event but they have gone on other sudden meetings,” he added.
“The meeting that the Prime Minister strongly stated does not interfere with relevant day to day office work is not respected,” he criticized.
The conference mainly targeted to strengthen the effort and campaign of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Revenue to expand the tax collection.
During the last decade the country has registered double digit growth, but the tax to GDP ratio is still very low.
“The conference targets to discuss and analyze if tax collection challenges are related with political, policy, administration, law or implementation,” the founder of AGC said.
“The aim of our consultancy firm is to give more support and to render high quality professional services to the government, the business communities, the NGOs; finance and development institutions as well as to the general public,” the founder said. AGS has ten PhD level highly experienced professionals on micro economic policy, good governance, corporate responsibility, finance and other sectors.
“We organized this event not for profit, but with a goal of contributing to our country,” Fisseha-Tsion said.
“We did not get financial support from the government to host this event, which is supposed to be the responsibility of the government,” he added.
The country has a goal of expanding the tax to GDP ratio to reach 17 percent by the end of the coming fiscal year, while the actual achievement is very poor.
Figures indicated that the country’s tax GDP ratio is lower than other regional countries and stands at about 12 percent and went down to 10.7 percent in the past year compared with the preceding year, which was below 13 percent.
The paper was presented on the day by Dr. Lemma Gudissa stated that the reduction may be related with poor collection, updating the tax policy or the private sector.
“Comparing to inflation the tax collection growth rate it is negative,” Lemma said.