The Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta has revealed that revenue mobilization under property rates, tax exemption and digitization of tax administration and collection are the three key areas that he would focus to improve domestic revenue mobilization.
To him this will help push the current low tax-to-GDP ratio of about 12.5 percent to the proposed tax-to-GDP ratio of at least 17 percent in our bid to moving Ghana beyond Aid.
He described the 2021 budget statement “as a battle cry” for all Ghanaians “to share the burden” that Covid-19 pandemic has placed on us as a nation.
He again said aside the need to burden share, we must also not loose sight of the fact that the 2021 budget seeks to complete at least 8700 projects, as our way of bringing finality to the culture of not completing projects previously done with tax payers monies.
“Consolidation is important for us because the macroeconomic indicators have been stable and clearly what we did in the past three and half years was what was able to support us in 2020 when the pandemic hit,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
Responding to questions before the Appointments Committee of Parliament he called for adoption positive behavioural change as being a critical driver for realising the President’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
He rejected accusations indicating that Ghanaian taxpayers are worse-off today because the Akufo-Addo-led administration has imposed so many taxes on them.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta stated that a critical analysis of the taxes abolished during the first term of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration showed that taxpayers in net terms are better off now than under the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
“When you look at the taxes we abolished, reduction in electricity and what we have done during this COVID-19 era, clearly on a net bases we have not really hurt the Ghanaian taxpayer, if you compare us to the previous government,” he stressed.
He appealed to Ghanaians should embrace the call to share the financial burden of the state and be assured that the government is still committed to moving the economy from taxation to production with its good policies.
He said that burden-sharing will not only help transform the country but also ensure the country also shares the opportunities that will emanate from our common efforts at building the Ghana we all want. Mr Ofori-Atta believes that the country needs to address its many challenges adding that we must boldly and innovatively embrace the opportunities that COVID-19 present ud as a people and leverage them to grow the country in a collaborative manner.
He asked us to put all hands on deck to grow and transform Ghana as opposed to bending our heads down because in adversity that our ingenuity and enterprise must count. He averted our minds to the fact that there are no good times ever for taxes, but the proposed tax measures in the 2021 budget are necessary to help deal excesss energy capacity charges, adverse effects of COVID-19, payment for COVID-19 vaccines and the huge sanitation problem that currently confront the nation. He assured that the government would ensure that all to be realised revenue from the proposed tax measures will be put to good use across the country.
He said prior to the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana’s economy and fiscal health was better in 2019 than in 2016.
“For the past four years, the economy has grown, social protection for the vulnerable has been increased, and the conditions of people have been made better, by the grace of God,” he stated.
Mr Ofori-Atta believed that the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government had been strong in fighting corruption, increased allocation to all anti-corruption governance institutions and jealously guarded the public purse.
“We have also been strong in fighting against COVID-19 pandemic and will keep adding value to the economy in our commitment to transforming Ghana,” he added.
Mr Ofori-Atta announced that some funds had been released for the National Unemployment Insurance Scheme to be rolled out soon.
Additionally, some funds had been released to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to make funding for agriculture sustainable.
The leadership of the Appointments Committee asked Mr Ofori-Atta series of questions regarding his family relations, business interests, banking sector cleanup, the Agyapa Royalties Transactions, among others.
Evidently, Mr Ofori-Atta’s exhibited depth of knowledge, calm demeanour, demonstration of clarity of purpose and readiness to be bold and innovative suggest that if approved, the man will certainly be on fire to deliver the Ghana we all want.