#IWD2021: Alumna helps Ghana’s Ministry of Finance improve tax policy

As a key member of the Tax Policy Unit in Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, Ashesi alumna Andara Kamara helps provide data and impact assessments to Ghana’s Finance Ministers, which ensures that the country’s tax policies are fair, equitable, and efficient. First joining the Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal Policy Unit, Andara has served as an Economist with the Tax Policy Unit for over five years. Her work, which includes co-leading the unit’s technical engagement with donors and stakeholders, and identifying opportunities for improving existing tax policies and administration, puts Andara at the forefront of one of Ghana’s most critical public policy teams.

“We complain a lot about the delivery of public services, or the lack thereof, in Ghana,” she shares, highlighting why she considered it important to work in the public sector. “For me, however, I’ve always felt that complaining was only a small part of solving any problem. I joined the public service to contribute my experiences to help improve service delivery.”

Andara has also been a key leader in the implementation of GHATAX, a microsimulation model built in partnership with the Institute for Fiscal Studies to facilitate analyses of the impact of tax policies in Ghana. The model covers some 75% of Ghana’s tax revenues and other essential payments made by households, and cash benefits paid by the government. In 2018, her work earned her a Rising Star Award under the Ministry of Finance’s Staff Recognition Programme.

“The public sector is at the heart of many things we do in Ghana,” Andara adds. “The work we do here also requires that we capture dynamic interactions between policy and socio-economic complexities. And considering the far-reaching impact of the Ministry of Finance, it is fulfilling to see that policies I have contributed to are positively impacting lives in Ghana.”

With a Business Administration degree from Ashesi and two Masters degrees from University College London (Public Policy) and King’s College London (Development and Environment)Andara’s path to the Ministry of Finance shares many connections to her time on campus. One of them: her current boss, Edward Abrokwah, taught her Economics during her time at Ashesi.

“Regardless of the work you do, mentors or coaches who look out for you cannot be underemphasised,” Andara shares in speaking of Edward Abrokwah, who is Head of Research and Natural Resources in the Tax Policy Unit at the Ministry. “I’ve been fortunate to work alongside my former lecturer who first showed me the ropes of Developmental Economics. Additionally, my experiences at Ashesi – with its emphasis on multidisciplinary learning – has been instrumental in helping me develop the kind of interdisciplinary approach which is extremely important in policymaking.”

Having now gained a more robust understanding of working across public sector spaces and public policy leaders, Andara is hoping to share her experiences with more young graduates, especially from Ashesi.

“Just like any other sector, working in the public sector is challenging,” Andara says. “However, the impact and change that your work can bring to the lives of thousands of people is almost unparalleled. It is a part of public service work that makes it very rewarding.”

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