Property and business owners in some selected Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the country have been issued with electronic payment certificate cards (e-PCC) by the latter to enable them honour their tax obligations with ease.
The e-cards are the brain-child of RevNet Limited, a Ghanaian IT Service Provider, which has been engaged by MMDAs to assist them collect property and business rates without any hassle. RevNet currently operates in the Adentan Municipality, Shama District, Cape Coast, Kumasi and Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolis.
RevNet Limited has been able to institute a revenue tracking, monitoring and collection management service that would meet the assemblies’ requirements at least-cost, low risk and in the most responsive manner.
Acting Managing Director of RevNet, Opeyemi Ogungbo, speaking to journalists in Accra, noted that his outfit has been contracted by MMDAs to collect revenue for them through an electronic banking system.
He intimated that the decision by the MMDAs to engage RevNet to implement the Electronic Banking System-Revenue Cycle Monitoring Service (EBS-RCMS) stemmed from the fact that the authorities of the assemblies observed that over the past years, monies paid to them were not a true reflection of what was being collected.
The e-PCC bears the name and photo of the rate payer as well as the assembly under whose jurisdiction they operate. It also features a biometric chip which enables it to store all transactions of the rate payer with the assembly. It additionally serves as a back-up for receipts and bills that have been served the rate-payer.
Mr. Ogungbo noted that there is no cost whatsoever to the rate-payer or the assembly for the card.
“The cost is part of the services provided by RevNet alongside SMS alerts to acknowledge receipt of payment, comprehensive enumeration and database.”
“Rate-payers over the years have had challenges keeping paper receipts so it is envisaged that the e-PCC will eliminate the problem of lost receipts. Moreover, the unique ID of the card enables verification and validation of payments over the internet at www.ebsrcm-gh.com, a website that gives further information about the assemblies,” he explained.
The acting Managing Director was of the view that the introduction of the e-PCC was seen as yet another feature of the EBS-RCM, which was the process of revenue collection management driven by ICT.
Mr. Ogungbo contended that prior to the introduction of the e-PCC, RevNet provided e-payment points within vantage points in the MMDAs with the view of making payment less burdensome, stressing that these were one-stop points where payers could verify statements and effect payment.
“In addition to this is the temper-proof receipting feature of EBS-RCM called the Automated Revenue Receipt (ARR), whose information is also captured on the e-PCC. This can also be used to verify and validate payment over the internet.”
According to him, after numerous information and education programmes, RevNet followed up with a programme dubbed ‘The Surge,’ which sought to further create awareness and answer questions that rate-payers need to know.
He revealed that ‘The Surge’ paved the way for staff of the assemblies to visit rate-payers on Saturdays and Sundays to meet property owners who, due to their work, have not been available on week days, particularly when the assemblies’ demand notices were presented.
Most rate-payers, who spoke to the media, expressed satisfaction with steps taken by the afore-mentioned MMDAs through RevNet to execute the programme.
“RevNet has plans to introduce its services to other MMDAs in Ghana to help maximize their revenue potential through prudent measures that will minimize leakages in the collection-chain. It will effect this through the development of comprehensive databases, amply informing rate-payers about their current obligations towards their assemblies, partnering assemblies to develop or complete street naming and house numbering so as to enhance the value of properties and upgrade MMDAs’ standards of addressing.
RevNet’s services aims at helping MMDAs achieve their objectives of increasing internally-generated funds (IGF) and reduce their reliance on disbursements from the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF). It will also help implement a wide range of quality services to their communities.
Immediate benefits include ensuring that rate-payer’s payments are well receipted and kept safe as well as secure. It will also automate rates collected to ensure improved productivity, comprehensive database of properties, businesses and other ratable assets for MMDAs’ budget and planning.
The e-cards also eliminates challenges such as evasion, collusion with collectors, mistakes, among others, to help identify fraudulent debit, diversion of funds and excess charges on assemblies’ accounts. It also establishes inter-connectivity among stakeholders (collectors, participating banks, assembly and RevNet) and identifies areas requiring improvements in the short, medium and long term.
By Samuel Boadi