The issue of rising public debt makes attainment of the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda of the Government almost a daunting reality, Mr Nicholas Ekow de-Heer, Head of Programmes, Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), has said.
He expressed concern about the use of 40 per cent of the national revenue to service debt. “Now we are spending on our capital expenditure, and capital expenditure is what will stimulate growth in the economy, it is not a helpful situation for the country”.
He explained that for the fourth successive year Ghana’s interest cost on loans had exceeded its capital expenditure, “this means we are paying more to service our debts”.
Mr de-Heer made these remarks at a stakeholders meeting on framing the “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda in Accra.
The seminar was organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) – Ghana, and attended by Ghana’s development partners, members of the diplomatic community, civil society organisations, policy makers and academics.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at the end of the forum, Mr de-Heer explained, “aid is assistance that we receive from other countries, now we are saying that we want to wean ourselves of aid. That is the vision that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has articulated.
“It means that we have to work extra hard, because we are already in a very difficult debt position. We have to understand that the Ghana beyond aid is just a vision that has been articulated, it is also a reality that is donning on us.
“With Ghana being classified as a lower-middle-income country, naturally, a lot of our aid support has started to dwindle, so it is not just because a vision that has been articulated. As a country, we have to cut down our borrowing and our debt.”
In order to address the issue of the nation’s rising debt, Mr de-Heer called for increased domestic revenue mobilisation.
“I know the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), so far is making attempts to shore up the revenue mobilisation.
“We hear these announcements on radio and television encouraging more people to pay tax but beyond that, we need to reform our revenue collection efforts and policies,” he added.
He said a critical look at the property tax, would show that very expensive property owners were paying very little in terms of tax.
“For example, we have houses in East Legon and houses in Airport Residential Area that are paying next to nothing by way of property tax, when in actual facts, these properties cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
He called on stakeholders to stop the politicisation of economic issues, “it does not help anybody, because these are hard facts that as a country we are facing and the tendency labelling everyone with a political colour does not help.
“Ghana is our country, and we have to look at these things very well”.