Economy

Imbibing code of ethics, commitment key to success -Prof. Gatsi tells tax professionals

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By Eugene Davis

The Dean of the University of Cape Coast School of Business, Prof. John Gartchie Gatsi has asked tax practitioners to be ethical and demonstrate professional standards in their work.

Delivering a lecture to 2023 graduating class of the Chartered Institute of Taxation on the topic ‘Professional conduct and the role of members in protecting and promoting the image of the Chartered Institute of Taxation Ghana’ he admonished the graduating students that members of the tax profession must imbibe the code of conduct and maintain commitment at all levels.

The purpose of professional code of conduct is to define behaviours and moral principles for practitioners to practice with everyday consciousness of objectivity, honesty, integrity and commitment to confidentiality.

He explained that no other profession is allowed to practice as tax practitioner or firm unless the person or firm is registered as a member of the Institute per section 12 of Act 916. This called for all members to jealously ensure that only members practice.

Prof. Gatsi advised that membership places trust in the tax practitioner by his/her clients, Ghana Revenue Authority, the regulators and other stakeholders and this must not be taken for granted. That the responsibility for ethical and professional behaviour must be taken seriously by all practitioners within the tax profession irrespective of the years in practice.

 “All of you must be committed to upholding and maintaining the reputation in order to sustain public trust. He admonished them that complying with ethical rules and professional conduct will not be painless and that sometimes it may even cost them but this is the profession you have signed on to which demands daily consciousness.”

On professional misconduct he outlined a number of points including; a person engages in professional misconduct if the person is not guided by or is not committed to the ethics of the tax profession.

Disclosing information acquired in the course of professional engagement to another person without the consent of the client, Making paid advertisement in the media(touting), soliciting clients or professional work, gross negligent of professional duty, expressing professional opinion not based on sufficient information.

Others are Failing to keep moneys of a client in a separate bank account or using clients’ money for purposes not agreed on, submitting false returns and statement to the Council of the Institute and allowing a person who is not a Chartered tax practitioner to practice in one’s name.

Prof. Gatsi also highlighted conflict of interest as the requirement of law that at any given time it should be disclosed and such disclosures are to be recorded in a conflict-of-interest register, adding that while it is generally advisable to avoid inducement and gifts.

According to him, it is appropriate for professional bodies and organizations to develop gift policies as some may want to place premium on the value, type and material involve and others may just want to discourage gifts in any form.

Further, he stated it was the duty of practitioners to pay dues and participate in the activities and programs of the Institute and that the practitioners and other membership categories will develop the profession by ensuring the following: do not engage in a conduct, either professional or personal, which would bring the tax profession or the Institute into disrepute.

“Do not accept inducements or gift, do not allow offers of hospitality, pleasure or those with vested interests to influence, or be perceived to influence your professional decisions.”

He encouraged the participants about ways to promote the brand of the Institute through the following: Adhere to the professional and ethical code of conduct of the Institute, Serve your clients diligently and with utmost efficient service,contribute to policy framing,publish in the newsletter or journal of the Institute,participate in the programs of the Institute.

The relevance of a professional body, he noted is about to be discredited if professional ethics and conduct is not prioritized. 

Prof. Gatsi warned of chaos if these requirements are applied selectively to members and charged them to promote the profession through good customer care and excellent professional service.

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