I handed the bus conductor (mate) a defaced one cedi note and said “Okponglo”. The gentleman looked surprised; this was a car heading to Accra and I had boarded at UG main gate. I was heading to the Ghana Revenue Authority office at Okponglo.
As part of preparations towards my project of interest, I had been asked to furnish the agency I was dealing with, my TIN. Had no idea that TIN meant something else apart from the revered mineral kids used for cars. Growing up, we referred to such cars as “Konko cars”. TIN however, referred to Tax Identification Number.
My first statement when I realized which TIN the gentleman was referring to was “I am not a tax payer!” He replied “you need to register, because we need your TIN.
The internet continues to be a great ally, so I typed “TIN Ghana” in a search engine on my not so smart, smart phone and hit the “enter key”. The responses the search churned out despite being numerous were spot on. Aside informing me of what TIN was, I was directed to download an application form which I was to fill and submit at offices indicated on the website I was viewing; the GRA website.
I was impressed; such clarity and ease at getting information on indigenous stuff on Ghanaian portals ‘is’ and ‘was’ rare.
I printed and painstakingly filled the form. The next day was Monday, and it was on this day that I handed the mate the one cedi note.
After answering brief questions at the office, I was told to put down my phone number and that , I will receive a text message once my registration certificate is ready. As I prepared to leave the office, the time was 11 am. Before I stepped out I asked the nice lady who had questioned me on details I had provided on the form. “How soon will I receive the text?”. For a lad with little confidence in the nature of administrative work at public offices, it was just a search for a timeline which I intended to add 7 days to, so I wait patiently. She replied “maybe three days, not beyond”.
Tuesday, 4:10pm, I received a text from the GRA that my certificate was ready. I arrived at the GRA office 15 minutes later. The lady smiled as she replied to my “hello” greeting. She quickly asked, “you received a text?” I gladly replied and she asked that I sit while she gets the certificate for me. Five minutes later, the beautiful lady whose name I had forgotten to ask returned with the certificate and a sheet of paper on which I was to sign against my name.
I didn’t hesitate to show my profound appreciation and headed for the exit. I opted to walk back to my place of work even though I had some cedi notes . I was excited and impressed about how fast the process had been. Interestingly, I didn’t incur any cost, not even a dime.
I pondered while I walked, how exciting and less stressful the country could be if such pace was demonstrated at the passport office and other offices in the country. Maybe the tax registration could have been faster than it actually took, maybe the process was not a stringent one hence the pace,maybe i don’t trust our administrative system so much, maybe the passport offices and other offices across the county engage in tasks that are quite complex than a simple tax registration.
How about not paying a dime at the office, the “maybes” stated above may apply. We all agree on an obvious fact; our systems must improve and must be efficient.
While another document of mine remains pending at another office, I head to another (office) for a different document tomorrow, I pray for such pace!