A private legal practitioner has bemoaned the government’s imposition of more taxes on Ghanaians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting salaries of government appointees could be slashed.
Alexander Twum-Barimah who was speaking on Morning Update on TV XYZ indicated that taxing the ordinary Ghanaian was not the solution to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s ailing economy.
The 2021 budget statement and economic policy of the government proposed new taxes on petroleum products, 1% COVID-19 Health Levy on VAT Flat Rate Scheme and 1% on the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL).
The reactions from a section of Ghanaians indicate that the Akufo-Addo government is insensitive to the plights of the millions of Ghanaians whose businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic.
But Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has urged Ghanaians to accept to pay a “little” extra taxes introduced in the 2021 budget statement to help resuscitate the economy which he said was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Contributing to the budget discussion in Parliament on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, Nkrumah who is also MP for Ofoase-Ayirebi said, “we are at that point where every Ghanaian has to chip in a little so that we are able to recover. We cannot as a country allow the temporary challenges that we face today to hold us back.”
He added, “We need to bite the bullet, raise some more resources and invest the same in the things that we all aspire to achieve in this country.”
Nkrumah made a strong case that the government would need resources to be able to provide good roads and improve sanitation as they pursue other promises given Ghanaians.
“Mr Speaker, for all of us members of parliament who demand road projects in our constituencies, if govt desires to increase the road tolls marginally to raise more resources to ensure our contractors are paid on time so that our roads are done, it is something that will benefit our constituents and us as well.”
He continued: “For all of us who complained that the president promised Accra should become the cleanest city in Africa within a period of time, that promise has not been materialised. I am sure that if we pay a little extra and those funds are put to the proper use, we’ll be able to make not just Accra but Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale and other cities the cleanest in West Africa. It will serve our constituents well and serve us well.”
But Twum Barimah believes if the Akufo-Addo government orders all appointees to donate a percentage of their salaries to the government like former president John Mahama did, it can contribute to the delivery of some other important projects.
“We had a president who was sacrificing 10% of his salary alongside his ministers to help Ghana. We are in COVID, President [Akufo-Addo] says we are in crisis; it’s true [and ] we know,” he said and quizzed, “Why is he also not giving us this kind of things for us to also believe him?”
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister nominee, Ken Ofori-Atta, has also called on all Ghanaians “to share the burden” COVID-19 pandemic left behind and embrace the new taxes.
He described the 2021 budget statement “as a battle cry” saying the pandemic ravaged global economies with Ghana being no exception hence the need to pay the extra taxes imposed on Ghanaians.
Speaking from his treatment base in the USA where he has been on medical review from COVID-19 complications, Ofori-Atta stated, ” …all of us must be part of this; to burden share, going forward. We have 8700 projects, we have targeted them for completion, and so that culture of not completing projects we should do away with it.”