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Regional News Mon, 26 Nov 2007

NUGS expresses concern on mobile phone airtime tax

Accra, Nov. 26, GNA - The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) on Monday described as "unwelcome" government's decision to abolish VAT on mobile phone imports and instead impose tax on mobile phone airtime. It said the initiative would be to the detriment of students who were mostly non-income earners.

"Any attempt to implement this proposed policy would meet the massive resistance of all students in Ghana," said a statement jointly signed in Accra by Mr Kweku Tuoho Bombason, NUGS President and Mr David Damoah, Press and Information Secretary.

The statement said government should rather work at other areas of widening the tax net to enhance revenue mobilization instead of the initiative, which would further worsen the woes of students and the general public.

On the new education reforms, NUGS proposed the establishment of an Independent Inspectorate Directorate to ensure effective, efficient and independent monitoring and evaluation of the reforms.

It noted that enrolment had increased in schools as a result of the capitation grant and school feeding programmes but asked for practical measures to ensure retention of these pupils in school. "The allocation of money to cater for the registration of the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) candidates is welcomed. Nevertheless, NUGS demands that government investigate the reason behind the 160,000 failures (50 per cent) out of 320,255 pupils who sat for BECE 2007."

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It said government should also note the importance of human resource development to achieve its 2008 Budget focus on "Growth through Massive Infrastructure Development", in addition to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

On other sectors, the statement said it was imperative for the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to expedite action on new salary scheme to ensure a new comprehensive pay structure for equity in the government's pay roll and help reduce industrial actions. NUGS also lauded the increase in the District Assemblies' Common Fund from five per cent to 7.5 per cent and called on government to further strengthen the decentralization process to enable districts to embark on their own prioritised projects. "The allocation of GH=A225 million for the establishment of a Northern Development Fund is worthy of praise especially in the wake of the recent floods that have exacerbated the gap between northern and southern Ghana."

It said government should also embark on more pro-poor policies to ensure an equitable distribution of the national cake to avert the situation where macroeconomic stability only benefited the rich at the detriment of the poor.

The Union cautioned government to ensure effective management of the oil discovered and to immediately introduce courses in tertiary institutions that would provide the technical know how to manage the industry. On electric power generation, the Union urged government to focus more on other alternative power generation sources, such as solar, to forestall future crisis. NUGS wished President John Agyekum Kufuor the best of health and called for investigations into the accident involving his car and beef up his security.

Source: GNA
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