Policy Think Tank, Centre for Freedom and Accuracy (CFA) has kicked against government’s proposed new taxes.
As part of measures to fix the ailing economy, Finance Minister Seth Tekpeh hinted government’s plan to adjust the tax regime.
But the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy has cautioned Parliament against endorsing the proposed new taxes.
Executive Director for the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Andrew Awuni brought this to the fore at a media briefing on corruption in Ghana.
He was convinced that implementing the new taxes will overburden the business community.
“We want to draw Parliament’s attention to the already high cost of doing business and the declining competitiveness of Ghana in the Sub Region as contained in the doing business index; we want to draw Parliament’s attention to the increasing cost of funds from the commercial banks to businesses as was admitted by the Governor of the Bank of Ghana himself.”
According to Andrew Awuni, Parliament will damage its own reputation by allowing the executive to coerce the legislator to endorse the proposed new taxes.
“There is the need for Parliament to take a non-partisan approach to these measures by putting the interests of the country and its people and the long term development of the Ghanaian economy ahead of every other consideration.”
He therefore challenged the legislator to demonstrate its relevance in the scheme of national affairs by placing value on the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Auditor General (AG) on some corrupt practices uncovered at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
“If we commit ourselves to finding all the lost revenue as reported in the 2011 Auditor General’s Report alone we will not need to put any more burden on the public; so then first let us see some action to recover the losses that have been reported by our Parliament and the Auditor General before we start imposing additional levies.”
He reminded Parliament of its core mandate to zealously safeguard the public purse.
“We want to draw Parliament’s attention to the Reports of their own Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the recommendations therein which have been left unattended to for years; in these reports the PAC repeatedly regretted the reckless wastage of public funds and the careless leakages in the country’s revenue structure that have left the country poorer.”
Andrew Awuni further condemned moves to upwardly adjust utility tariffs.
“We want to draw Parliament’s attention to the hints of increases in utility rates as was indicated by President Mahama and the Finance Minister and the impact of these increases on businesses and end users of products and services will further aggravate the situation.”
According to the former Presidential Spokesperson, Ghana’s trade deficit had deteriorated and that there was total decline in exports and non-oil imports.
“Our stock of public debt went up and to cup it all up the country has experienced some serious revenue shortfalls.”
He also drew Parliament’s attention to the Ghana Shippers Authority reports on the rot at the nation’s ports and harbors and therefore called for immediate action.
He recalled, “In that paper the Authority lamented the non-competitiveness of our business environment as it stands today; they complained of the huge bureaucracy, the cumbersome procedures and numerous different charges that apply at our ports and harbors and concluded that the current situation is making life unbearable for the end users of products and services.”
On the new pay policy and its repercussions, he implied, “The pressure of the implementation of the Single Spine Salary structure and of the execution of the budget itself has kept the country in a tight corner and we will need to do something significant and urgently to restore the sanity to our economy.”
The Centre for Freedom and Accuracy believes that if government truly wants to cause positive changes to the economy, revenue collection mechanisms must be strengthened.
“Our concern is the weak and porous structure of revenue collection in this country; when revenue collectors go out and collect revenue from shopkeepers, saloons, barbering shops, market women do these monies really get to their destinations? “
By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah