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SML's impact on Ghana's revenue mobilization

Opinion

1 months ago
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“Innovative public-private partnerships can help transform economies by bringing everyone into the digital economy"

Globally, it is recognized that well-crafted public-private partnerships (PPPs) do play pivotal roles in helping transform economies. Evidently, by harnessing synergies between the public and private sectors, such innovative collaborations tend to unlock new frontiers of investment and expertise – crucial elements for driving efficiency, transparency, accountability and thus transformative change.

“When a PPP succeeds, everyone is a winner – the public entity, the private enterprise and the citizens at large”

Innovative collaboration between a public entity and private enterprises, in the revenue administration and mobilization space is not new to Ghana. Ghana Revenue Authority(GRA) is on record to have entered into strategic partnerships with many private entities such as GC-Net, ICUMS and others with the view to meet its set annual revenue target for the good people of Ghana. It is in this same spirit that Strategic Mobilization Limited (SML), a private firm has partnered with GRA to help optimize revenue mobilization in the critical downstream petroleum sector. Through, deployment of revolutionary technologies and Al data-driven solutions, SML's engagement with GRA can be seen as harnessing the miracles offered by PPPs in revenue mobilization space at marginal cost to Government without compromising on ensuring efficiency, transparency, and higher realized tax revenue for Ghana.

‘We audit not to only find faults, but to guarantee accuracy and integrity of financial information”

The Downstream Petroleum Audit: A Watershed Moment

Before SML's intervention, management of downstream petroleum operations data was mainly a manual fragmented painstaking process, plagued with inefficiencies and vulnerabilities due to limitations of man. Reliance on stand-alone systems made it difficult to maintain and leverage data effectively, hampering GRA's ability to accurately regulate, monitor, assess and tax petroleum products in both downstream and upstream petroleum sectors.

“Digital transformation is not. About technology – it’s about change emanating from failing fast in learning fast to deal decisively with the realities of our time”

To address this challenge, SML introduced an end-to-end Electronic Metering Management System (EMMS), a state-of-the-art solution that digitalized the measurement and reporting of petroleum product supplies. This transformative initiative ushered in a new era of precision, transparency, and revenue assurance for the nation.

SML’s Impact: Billions Unlocked and Efficiency Optimized

“In the era of digitalization, data is the new oil that fosters transparency, trust and cultivates loyalty”

The results of SML's partnership with GRA have been nothing short of remarkable. An independent audit by KPMG revealed an incremental volume of 1.7 billion litres and an incremental tax revenue of GHS 2.45 billion for the period under review. This substantial revenue boost represents a significant win for Ghana.

Moreover, KPMG's assessment highlighted the qualitative benefits of SML's intervention, including 24/7 electronic real-time monitoring of petroleum product outflows and partial monitoring of inflows at depots equipped with SML's flowmeters. This round-the-clock surveillance serves as a powerful deterrent against under-declarations, safeguarding the nation's revenue streams.

“Without knowing our records, it can be difficult to know what needs repairing, what needs reconciling and what needs paying for in taxes”

Equally impressive are the six levels of reconciliation undertaken by SML, meticulously cross-checking data to prevent revenue losses to the GRA. This rigorous process, coupled with the sharing of discrepancy reports for follow-up action, underscores SML's commitment to fostering transparency and accountability within the sector. At the heart of SML's success lies the transformative power of digitalization. By replacing manual, error-prone processes with advanced digital solutions, the EMMS has revolutionized the way petroleum product supplies are measured, monitored, and reported.

“Our ability to collect, analyze, triangulate and visualize vast amounts of data in real time is something that sets us apart in helping mobilize revenue in amazing ways in significant size never before – Data speaks for us"

Real-time data streams provide unprecedented visibility into petroleum product flows, enabling precise tracking and thus taxing of such flows. This level of granular insight not only bolsters revenue collection but also enhances operational efficiency by streamlining administrative processes and enabling data-driven decision-making. Moreover, the digital nature of SML's solution promotes transparency and accountability, two critical pillars of good governance and accurate assessment of taxes.

Comprehensive digital records and transparent data sharing foster public scrutiny and oversight, mitigating the risks of corruption, manipulation, and misappropriation that can plague traditional, opaque systems.

"Imagination encircles the world by creating avenues for knowledge sharing for humanity’s mutual benefits"

SML's model has garnered significant international acclaim, with nations like Kenya among others actively seeking to emulate its successful approach. Governments across borders have reached out to learn from SML's pioneering framework, underscoring the transformative potential that entrepreneurs can unleash when provided with an enabling environment and opportunities to pursue productive ventures. This burgeoning global interest serves as a powerful endorsement of SML's innovative methodology and its capacity to drive positive change in revenue mobilization and resource management.

As more countries explore replicating SML's template, Ghana's visionary embrace of public-private partnerships positions it as a torchbearer, illuminating a path towards sustainable economic development through synergistic collaborations that harness the entrepreneurial spirit.

SML’s Saga: A Catalyst for Broader Sector Reforms

“Success is surely the sum of unseen hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what one does”

While SML's immediate impact has been felt in the downstream petroleum sector, the ripple effects of this pioneering PPP extend far beyond. By demonstrating the tangible benefits of leveraging private sector expertise and technology, SML's engagement is a powerful catalyst for broader sectoral reform and the adoption of PPPs across Ghana's revenue mobilization landscape.

“SML does not wait for opportunity, SML simply creates opportunities” Based on the KMPG’s report, the government's recognition of SML's success in the downstream petroleum sector has prompted a comprehensive assessment of potential revenue leakages in the upstream petroleum and minerals sectors.

Informed by this experience, the President has directed a comprehensive technical needs assessment, value-for-money analysis, and stakeholder engagements to explore the implementation of similar PPP models in these critical industries.

This proactive approach underscores the government's commitment to maximizing revenue streams and optimizing resource allocation through innovative partnerships. By replicating the successes of the downstream petroleum audit, Ghana can unlock new avenues for economic growth, sustainable development, and improved service delivery for its citizens.

"Alone SML can do so little; together Ghana can do so much for our strength is in each individual member”

While civil society organizations (CSOs) and other institutions play crucial roles as "watchdogs" in ensuring accountability for government decisions and practices in nation building, it is equally imperative that Ghanaians also extend their support to native individuals and entities dedicated to safeguard the public purse.

Just as we rely on external oversight to promote transparency and good governance, we must also foster an environment that empowers homegrown initiatives and spur on entrepreneurial ventures for the good of Ghana. In essence, while external oversight remains indispensable, it is our collective duty as people to champion and empower those among us who are committed to the noble cause of defying all odds in safeguarding the public purse.

By fostering a symbiotic relationship among government, civil society, and entrepreneurial initiatives, we can forge a path towards a more transparent, accountable, and prosperous future for all Ghanaians.

Long live Ghana, long live SML and together let’s build a nation that the next generation after us will feel proud to have and die for. End

source: Nyarko Abronoma