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No need for new taxes in mid-year budget review

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Mr Ken Ofori-Atta,
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta,

A Tax Policy Analyst, Dr Alex Ampaabeng, has advised the Government against introducing new taxes in the 2023 mid-year budget review expected to be delivered on July 25. 

He said while it was important to shore up domestic revenue, imposing new taxes on Ghanaians could “chock the country”.

He called for robust mechanisms to tackle leakages in the tax administration system, including stopping underpayment.

Dr Ampaabeng was speaking at an event held in Accra on Thursday by the Economic Governance Platform, an umbrella body comprising 15 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Policy Think-tanks.

He said the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) led to some 80 per cent Banks in Ghana reporting losses in their last financial statements, which meant that the government also lost taxes in effect.

“Due to these losses, the Banks cannot support other sectors in the economy. That means, the businessman who needs to take the loan to work and get money and pay tax won’t also be able to do so, and there’s rippling effect on every other sector of the economy,” Dr Ampaabeng remarked.

He said the result from the introduction of the electronic invoicing system by the Ghana Revenue demonstrated that efficient tax implementation could make the government rake in more revenue.

“Bank of Ghana (BoG) data show that in the last quarter, year-on-year VAT grew by 92 per cent, and it was not by magic. It’s because of the e-invoicing that GRA introduced. Hitherto, companies were underpaying their invoices,” he said.

“Where were those who were not paying the VAT?” He quizzed, adding that: “So, underpayment of taxes is a problem; it’s not about overburdening the few who pay the taxes, but expanding the tax net to ensure that all those who qualify paid.”

The Tax Policy Analyst explained that in the last eight months, the cost of electricity in the country had increased by more than 50 per cent, likewise water, as inflationary and exchange rate pressures remained.

“Everything in the country has gone up so, the cost of doing business is high. How do you expect businesses to be able to make the needed profit for you to get the taxes?” Dr Ampaabeng asked.

“Therefore, it will be wrong to introduce new tax. Instead, government should make sure that there are more robust tax administration strategies and integrate electronic systems in all aspects of tax administration,” he said.

He reiterated calls for the government to consider the reintroduction of the abolished road toll levy and scrap the electronic transactions levy (E-levy), which he said had failed to meet its intended revenue targets since its introduction.

Dr John Kwakye, an Economist with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) also asked the government to implement pragmatic measures to earn more from the natural resources, including gold, cocoa, diamond, and oil.

The government must take bold steps to stop foreigners from taking about 85 per cent of the country’s natural resource wealth to their countries, while Ghana could boost of only 15 per cent of the natural resources.

Dr Kwakye also called for enhanced collaboration between the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Ministry of Finance to strike a balance in the monetary and fiscal measures.

He urged the two institutions to adopt multipronged approaches to tame inflation and other economic pressures as the government embarked on reforms supported by the US$3bn International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout programme.

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