The Chamber for Local Governance (ChaLoG) has called on Parliament to reject the government’s budget proposal for a centralised collection of property rates from the various Metropolitans, Municipalities and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
It said the attempt by the government to deprive the MMDAs of the collection of Property Rate Taxes, which constituted a major source of Internally Generated Funds (IGF) for the Assemblies.
Mr Romeo Elikplim Akahoho, Executive Secretary for ChaLoG, said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the proposal by the government in the Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the 2022 Fiscal Year presented to Parliament.
He described the proposal as not only defeatist of the Fiscal Decentralization Concept but would undoubtedly affect the MMDAs negatively as they would be deprived of their major source of IGF.
Mr Akahoho said, “as if that is not enough, the MMDAs will not be able to readily access these monies in a timeous manner should the government be allowed to take over the collection of the Property Rate Taxes.”
ChaLoG, he added, has noted with grave concern the poor manner the government has handled the release of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) since it assumed power in January 2017.
It said the government could not “be trusted to go ahead to collect the Property Rates Taxes for and on behalf of the MMDAs to be paid into the Consolidated Fund and later transferred to them.”
He challenged the government to empower the MMDAs through building their capacities “if the government thought that they were not efficiently collecting the property rates for which reason it wanted to take over the collection.”
Mr Akahoho also called for the retooling of the Revenue Departments of the MMDAs to effectively collect the Property Rates and retain a certain percentage for central government.
He further asked the government to recruit and strengthen the Legal Departments of MMDAs as well as introduce courts to specifically deal with revenue-related issues expeditiously.
ChaLoG also called for the amendment of the laws that exempted certain properties like churches, mosques and government buildings from paying property rate tax.
He said there was also the need to eliminate the unnecessary political interference in the collection of property rate taxes from highly placed and influential people as well as politically exposed persons.
“ChaLoG firmly believes if the government could consider the aforementioned suggestions and adequately confront them head-on, then the MMDAs would be adequately empowered to effectively and efficiently collect the Property Rate Taxes.
“If this is done, the government would not need to get directly involved in the collection of Property Rate Tax as has just been proposed in the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy,” he added.