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GRA Boss Gets President’s Endorsement …Handed 4 More Years Contract   
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Following what sources at the seat of government say was satisfactory conduct and successful handling of the transition that led to the merger of the three state revenue agencies to form the now Ghana Revenue Authority, President John DramaniMahama has given an additional four-year term to the GRA’s first Commissioner General, Mr George Blankson.

A tax Reform Consultant/Tax Administration and Economist by training, MrBlankson’s impressive performance as the first Commissioner General of the GRA which in recent times has led to a surge in revenue mobilization is said to have gained the President’s endorsement, hence the renewal of his stay for another four years.

The passage of the Ghana Revenue Act, Act 791 of 2009 established the GRA as the sole body to regulate and handle the administration of taxes and customs duties in Ghana, replacing the three erstwhile revenue agencies; Customs Exercise and Preventive Service, Internal Revenue Agency, the Value Added Tax and the overall regulatory body, Revenue Agency Governing Board.

The late President John Evans Atta Mills, thus, appointed Mr.Blankson who was then a lead consultant/manager to the DFID support to the National Revenue Authority project of Sierra Leon, as Commissioner General to lead the GRA to integrate the management of domestic Tax and customs, modernize domestic tax and customs operations through the review of processes and procedures, and integrate internal service and value added tax services into domestic tax operations on functional lines.

Despite failing to meet its revenue target in the last two years which has been partly blamed on the 2012 election and the eight month long landmark election petition engineered by Nana Akufo-Addo and two other leading members of the opposition New Patriotic Party, revenue generation in recent times under MrBlankson’s watch is said to be picking up.

Reports are that revenue collected in March this year was just a percentage less the target set for that month and it is expected collections for April will exceed target.

This profound achievement among other things sources at the presidency say informed President John DamaniMahama’s decision to renew MrBlankson’s mandate on March 10, 2014.

His re-engagement also saw the appointment of the Assistant Commissioner of CEPS, Wallace Kofi Akondor as Acting Commissioner effective May 5, 2014 to replace Isaac OfoeApronti, who has attained the mandatory retirement age of 60.

This was contained in a letter signed by the Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Douglas KwakuBani, and copied to the Finance Minister last week Wednesday. The letter also named Frederick Gavoras Acting Deputy Commissioner in charge of operations of CEPS.

Mr John VianneyKuudamnuru is to be Head of Imports and Exports at the headquarters of the service while Osman Awudu has been moved from Kumasi to Tema as sector Head. He will be replaced by Kofi Toffah as sector Head in Kumasi. Melvin Mc-Bruce is to Head the Takoradi sector.

Brief Biography of MrBlankson

Information available on the GRA’s website described the GRA boss a Tax Reform Consultant/Tax Administrator and Economist with specialization in revenue modernization, VAT administration, design and implementation of tax procedures, as well as economic analysis and revenue forecasting.

Until his appointment as the Commissioner-General, Mr. Blankson worked for Crown Agents as a Lead consultant/ Manager to the DFID support to the National Revenue Authority (NRA) project, Sierra Leone.

His responsibilities at the NRA Sierra Leone, involved advising the Commissioner-General on all the operational business areas covered by the project. He was the lead advisor on all aspects of design and implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT), as well as working with other consultants to develop and implement a Revenue Authority modernization programme.

Among his achievements at the NRA was the effective management of the project, which impressed the DFID to expand the scope and budget of the project in 2007 to include an additional component: a Short Term Revenue Improvement Programme (STRIP).

In 2003, Mr. Blankson, led a three-member consulting team from the Revenue Agencies Governing Board (RAGB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the Republic of Gambia to train the Sales Tax Staff of the Inland Revenue Department on the draft Sales Tax Regime, as well as review and submit comments on the draft legislation.

The Commissioner-General was a Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations at the VAT Service, Ghana from 1998 to 2005, Deputy Director of Operations on the VAT project, Ministry of Finance, 1993-1998.He was an Assistant Commissioner in charge of Research and Monitoring at the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) from 1986-1993.

Mr. Blankson, has a number of publications to his credit. Some of his publications include “Enhancing Tax Compliance Under VAT in Ghana”, a paper which was presented at the International Seminar on Taxation, Senior Course Two in Tokyo, Japan in 2003, “Exemption and Zero-Rating Under VAT: The Ghanaian Experience and Lessons”, a paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Forum of Commissioners of VAT in Africa held at Livingston, Zambia in 2001 among others.

He holds an M.SC Economics with specialization in Taxation from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, B.A (Hons) Economics from the University of Ghana, and a Certificate in Senior Taxation Course from the National Tax College, Tokyo, Japan.

Source: The AL-HAJJ

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