There’s an interesting story of how Prof. John Evans Atta Mills moved from his position as Acting Commissioner of the then Internal Revenue Service to become the running mate for Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings (no one has confirmed the story to my hearing though).
It is told that the President wanted someone to explain to him in simple terms an economics term. None of the people called to explain to the big man could explain in simple terms—reminds me of Jeremy John Irons’ character in Margin Call. The good professor was called in as last resort and he was the only one who could explain things to the man who later became his political catalyst in the simplest of terms.
Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings immediately saw what was to be the hallmark of his genius not only as a professor but a tax expert.
In December 2009, Prof. Mills’ brainchild the Ghana Revenue Authority act was passed to integrate three different agencies into one powerful entity called GRA. The three were the Customs, Excise, and Preventive Service (CEPS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Value Added Tax Service (VATS) and the Revenue Agencies Governing Board (RAGB) Secretariat. The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) thus replaced the revenue agencies in the administration of taxes and customs duties in the country.
The merger became necessary because according to the revenue agencies themselves Domestic Tax and Customs operations needed review as the processes were bugged with bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
For instance, duplicated support functions across the Revenue Agencies with different systems and structures meant that the same thing was being done by different agencies with each trying to assert their influence.
The status quo stifled innovation in revenue generation for a long time and the good professor after years of experience lecturing and practicing as Commissioner of the IRS was able to deliver an effective solution by integrating the various agencies under one authority and leadership.
The fact that revenue collection and tax administration has become better and more convenient for businesses and individuals is a testament to the incredible work John Evans Atta-Mills did for Ghana. He may be no more but the annual increase in revenue in support of our development will stay with us forever.
Like his former vice president, John Mahama said, “Seven years ago, today, our nation was struck with unquenchable grief and agony when President John Atta Mills departed to his maker.