The Director of the Revenue Division at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Anthony Dzadra, has clarified his earlier statement that children and wards of parents and guardians who do not have Tax Identification Number (TIN) will not be allowed to benefit from the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
According to him, no such policy existed, rather a proposal had been made to Parliament to include the Free SHS programme in the list of public services and social intervention programmes that one would need the TIN to be able to access.
“I want to state emphatically that it is only a proposal that has been made to Parliament, and it can be approved or rejected. I did not say that it is a policy that will start in 2019.
“What happened is that a journalist posed a question to me that he had seen something in the 2019 budget that said parents will need TIN for free SHS, so I came in to explain the essence of the number.
“I went on to say that it was a proposal that had been made and that should it be approved, it will not even be difficult for parents to get the TIN, because they can go to any Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) office and get it,” he said.
No TIN no free SHS report
There was an earlier report that suggested that Mr Dzadra had hinted that beginning from the next academic year in September 2019, TIN would be a requirement for parents and guardians who wanted their children and wards to benefit from the Free SHS policy.
He was said to have made a case that such a move by the Ministry of Finance was to ensure that people were tax compliant before they were allowed to benefit from government-sponsored social intervention programmes and policies.
Additionally, the report quoted him as asking parents and guardians who do not have TINs to endeavour to register or risk having their children and wards barred from benefiting from the free SHS programme, beginning from the 2019 academic year.
Mr Dzadra was said to have made those observations in an interview with journalists after a post-budget forum in Accra last Monday.
The post-budget forum was organised by the Finance Ministry for members of the Institute of Finance and Economic Journalists (IFEJ).
This report raised a lot of eyebrows and generated a lot of debates in the media space, especially on social media.
Many social commentators and social media activists said such a policy would be a burden on poor parents, especially those in the rural areas of the country.
However, speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday, Mr Dzadra held that until such a time that Parliament approved or disapproved of the proposal, there was no law that would impose the TIN policy on parents next academic year as reported.
“Essentially, the point here is that the government is doing its best to provide social intervention programmes for many people, so the thinking is that as responsible citizens we need to get TIN and pay our taxes,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was a heated debate in Parliament on the proposal that had been made to include Free SHS in the list of services and social intervention programmes that required TIN before one could benefit.
The TIN is a unique 11-digit number that is a requirement under the Revenue Administration Act (RAA) 2016 (Act 915).
Obtaining a TIN is a requirement for any taxpayer to transact business with ease.
Although the law was passed two years ago, its implementation took off in July this year. Since then, it has become mandatory for people to obtain TINs before they are served at the Passport Office, the banks, courts, ports, the Lands Commission, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), the Registrar-General’s Department and other state agencies.