The Tax Justice Coalition-Ghana (TJC), a Civil Society Organization (CSO) has called on government to extend its social interventions such as utility reliefs to needy and vulnerable persons, particularly women.
The coalition has also urged government and the African Union and international partners, to lobby the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extension of the IMF Debt Service Sustainability Initiative (DSSI) and the inclusion of private creditors.
This, the coalition indicated, would help alleviate the poverty burden on the poor and vulnerable people in the country, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
These suggestions were made in a press statement issued and signed by Mr Bernard Anaba, Acting National Coordinator of the TJC, and forwarded to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale.
The statement suggested to government, some progressive measures to adopt in tackling the pandemic and its impact in the country.
The President as part of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, announced among other support interventions to include; the absorption of three months (April, May, June) water bill and the entire electricity bills of consumers, who consume up to 50 KWh, while residential and commercial consumers were to benefit from a 50 per cent discount on their bills.
The statement said government should further leverage the flagship Agriculture initiatives to target female household-heads particularly in Agriculture to boost their productivity and livelihoods during this period”.
It indicated that the recently revised personal income tax reliefs which could have helped many low-income earners over the years have not delivered for this purpose due to many barriers to accessing the reliefs.
TJC therefore urged the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to further educate and prevail on employers to encourage their employees to file their tax returns to be enable them take advantage of the policy.
It stated that government should also consider giving special relief packages for certain sectors such as employees of private education establishments and the transport sector operators who suffered directly as result of government directives on the pandemic.
The statement recommended fiscal interventions such as filling financing gaps that resulted from the pandemic taking into consideration “the reinstatement of the nuisance taxes; taking steps to tax the expanding digital economy and property taxation, enforcing the laws on rent tax and capital gains tax and raising the corporate and marginal tax rates to at least 30 percent”.
“Government must also tighten and enforce the tax laws with regards to benefits in kind for public servants, including; accommodation, vehicle, driver and fuel usages as well as entertainment, end of service benefits, among others, which affect only a few well-off individuals in the country” it stated.
The TJC-Ghana commended among others the government’s recent Digital Downstream Petroleum Products Measurement Project and encouraged it to tackle more vigorously, corrupt officials and snub politicians who interfere with tax administration.
The TJC Ghana further called on the government to shun political expediency and adopt a realistic targeting strategy for the granting of support to the poor and vulnerable and should only do it when necessary.
The TJC Ghana, while, commending Government for its rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far, urged it to take on board the numerous lessons the pandemic elicited to manage the economy towards equitable outcomes.