The Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) in collaboration with twenty (20) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has called for the automation of Domestic Revenue Mobilization (DRM) Systems at the district level. This is to contribute to national efforts at causing district assemblies to collect more revenue to meet the 90% District Performance Assessment Tool (DPAT) target.

The call was made at a hybrid workshop held by FOSDA on the theme “Leveraging on Automation for Post COVID-19 Reset of Local Economies”. The event brought together representatives from the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralization and Rural Development (MLGDRD), 20 CSOs and media partners.

Delivering the keynote address, FOSDA Programmes Manager Theodora Williams Anti said available date from 2013 to 2019 shows that the low level of revenue mobilization is a major source of concern as it further deepens poverty among citizens, severely hampering the fulfilment of SDGs 1 and 10 on reducing inequality. “This is manifesting because districts assemblies are unable to generate adequate revenue to deliver on pro poor services”.

She noted that, the COVID-19 pandemic also reduced Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) revenue inflows following the lockdowns and subsequent closure of businesses in Ghana but also created an opportunity for innovative ways of collecting revenue in some districts. She cited how the Communication Service Tax (CST); an automated Tax collection system exceeded its revenue target by 80% in the 3rd quarter of 2020. She added that FOSDA is undertaking this project on Automation of Internal Generated Funds (IGF) and needed the voices of CSOs to join in the advocacy drive.

Making a case for IGF Automation, FOSDA Programmes Officer Solomon Okai, said revenue collection, more often was difficult to meet its target due to unaccounted and uncollected revenues as cited in the Auditor Generals report in 2016 and 2018. He noted how automation has increased revenues for districts such as Sekondi Takoradi and Weija Gbawe districts by over 50%.

Speaking on the MLGDRD plans on Automation, Mr Raphael Adu-Gyan of the Research, Statistics and Information Management (RSIM) department said a Centralized Monitoring Dashboard (CMD) to enhance revenue collection has been developed to curb the cost of procuring automated systems by all districts. He noted that the CMD possessed a property status icon on the status of revenues paid to the district, what is expected to be collected and what has been collected. With a Unique Property Number, districts will be able to automatically calculate the revenue to be submitted by revenue collectors using data of the total number of properties per districts.

Mr Bright Sowu, Head of Programmes of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition Campaign (GACC) said there is the need to educate the citizenry on the need to pay rates and the various platforms that exist. He urged that the CSOs in partnership with citizens must develop capacity and a strong demand drive for social accountability at the local level to keep duty bearer on their toes to deliver on the social services in the districts.

At the end of the workshop a draft advocacy plan was developed to consolidate the areas for action.