Seasoned journalist, Kwesi Pratt has kicked against the new taxes introduced by the Akufo-Addo government.
The new taxes, to Kwesi Pratt, will inflict further hardships on Ghanaians, making it difficult for him to support the government to introduce the taxes.
The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu on Friday, March 12, presented the 2021 Budget Statement to Parliament.
The caretaker of Finance Minister, delivered the budget themed; “Consolidation, Completion and Continuation” on behalf of the indisposed sector head, Ken Ofori-Atta.
The 2021 budget statement and economic policy of government among others focused on measures the government is going to implement to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 global pandemic on the Ghanaian economy.
In all the Caretaker Finance Minister announced the suspension of four taxes. They are;
*The suspension of quarterly vehicle income tax during the third and fourth quarters of the year for operators of commercial public transport popularly called trotros and taxis. According to government, this move is aimed at reducing the cost of transportation under its tax relief program.
*Tax rebate of 30 per cent on the income tax due for companies in hotels and restaurants, education, arts and entertainment, and travel and tours for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2021.
*For operators of small businesses using the income tax stamp system, government is suspending their quarterly income tax instalment payments for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2021.
*There is also an extension of waivers of interest on accumulated tax arrears as an inventive to pay them off early although to be eligible, the first quarter tax obligations must have been fulfilled.
However, government also introduced some 6 new taxes.
The Akufo-Addo Administration will be introducing a Covid-19 Health Levy on VAT, Flat Rate Scheme (VFRS) and 1% on National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) as part of the revenue to help recover the economy
Also, it announced a 5% on profit-before-tax of banks as the financial sector clean-up levy.
This is to help defray the outstanding commitments in the sector.
Aside from that, the Government has instituted a Sanitation and Pollution Levy (SPL) of 10pesewas to keep the environment clean, as well as a “review of road tolls”.
There is also a new tax on betting/gaming. On Gaming Policy, government said gaming had become a major income earner all across the globe and a significant source of government revenue.
Fuel prices would also go up by 5.7%, Caretaker Finance Minister Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu announced.
“I should note that on the basis of existing world crude oil prices, the implementation of the two proposed levies for sanitation and pollution as well as to pay for excess capacity charges, would result in a 5.7% increase in petroleum prices at the pump.”
But Mr Pratt contends government is ikely to further compound situation of Ghanaians with the introduction of these new taxes, pointing out that a lot of Ghanaian workers cannot fend for themselves and their families currently.
Mr. Pratt, instead, proposed that President Nana Akufo-Addo should cut down the size of his government to fill the financial gap created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but not to make Ghanaians who are already suffering bear the cost of paying another taxes.
He questioned the significance in “Ministers having Special Aides and other irrelevant things like the Ministers going to places in a convoy“.
All these, he argued, increase government’s expenditure.
To him, Ghanaians are suffering enough for the government to push new taxes on them.
”Cutting the size of government is important. We say the Ministers have been downsized to eighty-five (85). Even if the number of Ministers reaches 85, it will be one of the highest in our history even at 85. But it’s not only the Ministers and Deputy Ministers that must be reduced but also Special Assistants. Everywhere you go, there are Special Assistants or Special Aides and so forth; we have to cut down all these. These are all expenditure”, he insisted during Peace FM’s morning show ”Kokrokoo”.