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A number of proposals have been submitted to government by organisations to shape the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy which will be presented to Parliament on Thursday, November 15, this year.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), in its submission, indicated that Ghana was capable of managing its affairs without IMF programmes to achieve President Akufo-Addo’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid.
“We expect the 2019 Budget Statement to lay a very strong foundation for this vision. We also expect concrete measures that will shift the economy away from taxes to production and reduce cost of living.”
It highlighted the sanitation situation which remains very poor even after a whole ministry had been established to deal with it.
“It is estimated that just about 15% of urban residents and only 6 percent of rural residents have access to sanitation facilities. These percentages are lower compared to other African countries. Ghana is ranked as ‘very high degree of risk,” according to Index Mundi Ghana Demographics Profile for 2018.”
TUC further called for the establishment of national mortgage and housing finance scheme to provide cheaper local currency mortgages and residential housing finance across the country to promote social equity through the Singaporean model of social housing finance to tackle mass joblessness in Ghana, among others.
The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is calling on government to reduce the high import duties in the 2019 Budget.
The association was hopeful the procurement processes would be simplified.
Dr. J.K. Obeng, president of GUTA, lauded government’s effort in ensuring that the necessary policies are put in place to boost the country’s performance in the area of export.
“We want pragmatic steps to be taken so that the duty rates will be reduced. We want procurement to be so simplified as well. Ghana as a nation has not done badly in terms of exports and the cash accrued therein. About 70% of countries are import based and are doing very well. The management is what matters,” he added.
Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Ghana, a local research and advocacy policy think tank, has made inputs into the Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the year 2019.
The proposals covered revenue mobilization, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), tax exemptions, agricultural and health sectors, education and public tertiary institutions and job creation.
On revenue mobilization, Appiah Kusi Adomako, National Co-ordinator, CUTS Ghana, who presented the proposals to the Ministry of Finance at a news conference in Accra, urged government to enhance tax effort by clamping down on tax exemptions and deductions, increasing petroleum sector corporate taxes, tackling tax evasion effectively and renegotiating tax treaties to allow higher withholding taxes, capital gains taxes and taxes on dividends.
It called on government to make the design of the tax system more progressive by increasing taxes on capital gains, inheritance and gifts to match income tax rates; increasing personal and corporate income rates to match regional levels, while raising minimum tax thresholds further to exempt poor citizens.
It called on government to make tax collection more progressive by sharply increasing the proportion of taxes coming from personal and corporate income tax and capital gains/property/wealth taxes, ending taxes on cocoa exports and increasing excise duties on bottled water and soft drinks.
Government was also called upon to automate all toll roads and give incentives to cars that make pre-payment, using the electronic pass, with motorists being allowed to top up at the bank or use the mobile money platform in order to prevent fraud and revenue leakage.
It was also proposed that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies should maximize efforts at raising revenue from property taxes and have the same spent on three key sectors of the economy-education health and sanitation.
Joy Fm Forum
At a Joy Fm Forum in September this year, attendants discovered that 98.5% of all the taxes collected were used to pay salaries.
One of the discussants quizzed: “What can a government do with 1.5% of its total tax revenue? What are its options for funding? What can a government do to improve the lives of ordinary Ghanaians with 1.5% of its revenue left for everything else? And what do you prioritise?”
Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, is predicting doom for Ghanaians in 2019 ahead of the presentation of the budget to Parliament.
He said the yet-to-be presented 2019 budget statement and economic policy would be full of hopelessness.
Ato Forson said since the various budgets presented by the Akufo-Addo government have brought nothing good but hardships to Ghanaians, the impending budget would only be hell for many Ghanaians.
“We say Ghana beyond hell because in the year 2017, the budget was named ‘Asempa’ budget, meaning good news. But at the end, what did we see? What should we expect in the 2019 budget? Hopelessness,” he added.
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