John E.K. Sotenga discusses his long experience in Ghana's Internal Revenue Service and the gradual improvements that were made in capacity. He focuses on the challenges of reorganizing tax administration along functional lines. As the first director of Ghana’s Large Taxpayers Unit, a one-stop shop for large taxpayers, Sotenga encountered the difficulties of integrating staff from three separate agencies: the IRS, the customs agency, and the value-added tax agency. He stresses the importance of placing employees from the three different agencies in groups together on specific tasks, thereby allowing them to gradually transfer their skills to one another.
At the time of this interview, Mr. Sotenga was deputy commissioner for operations at Ghana's Internal Revenue Service. He joined the Ghanaian Central Revenue Department in 1978 as an assistant inspector and moved up through the ranks, first becoming chief inspector, then heading several regional tax offices. In Accra, he directed first the Large Taxpayers Office—a division of the IRS created in 1996—and later the Large Taxpayers Unit, a one-stop shop that allowed large taxpayers to pay all taxes at one central location.