We are against tax increases – IMANI

Mr Franklin Cudjoe (inset) CEO, IMANI Africa addressing participants on Audit of Ghana's Economic Freedom.

Mr Franklin Cudjoe (inset) CEO, IMANI Africa addressing participants on Audit of Ghana’s Economic Freedom.

Policy think tank, IMANI, has kicked against the speculated tax increment in the upcoming mid-year budget review.

According to Founding President and Chief Executive Officer of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, the wastage in the system could be saved to fund programmes instead of increasing the burden on  Ghanaians.

Interacting with journalists on the sidelines of IMANI’s Audit of Ghana’s Economic Freedom in Accra yesterday, he said it would be a grave mistake for the government to introduce additional tax to support programmes such as free Senior High School (SHS) and one-district-one factory.

“IMANI is against any increases in taxes especially going to some of the freebies that were promised without any proper means destined. We don’t want that. It is going to add to the burden Ghanaians already feel,” he said.

IMANI’s stance comes in the wake of speculations that the government intends to introduce additional taxes on Thursday when the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, presents the Mid-year budget review in parliament.

Even though the government has not been definite, its close associates have dropped hints which have been opposed by sections of Ghanaians, including the minority in parliament.

Delving into the wastage, Mr Cudjoe said “collusive” and “multimillion contracts” were being signed without tender documents while the values of others were being blown out like the Kelni GVG contract, in addition to fuel fraud.

“You cannot be asking for more money when you know how to plug these loopholes. You cannot be asking for more taxes when you have exemptions in the region of almost GH¢2.6billion at the end of 2017 when you promised you will only give tax exemption of about Gh¢932million. What were those exemption used for, did they add a value to the economy?” he asked.

On the free SHS, he said the government was forewarned to allow parents who could afford, to pay fees so the resources would be used for other projects and that  “You do not need a GH¢1.2 billion  bill for free SHS when you have not planned for it. Nobody asked you to do that, you were given alternatives.”

In the case of the one-district one-factory, Mr Cudjoe said it did not make economic sense adding that the programme was just to satisfy the government’s insatiable expansionist agenda.

Mr Cudjoe reminded the government of its 2016 campaign promise to reduce the “draconian and heinous” taxes by the previous administration and focus on production.

The forum, attended by participants from academia, industry, government, civil society organisations was aimed at auditing economic policies in Ghana to increase economic freedom.

Organised by IMANI, the Frazier Institute and other partners, the audit is based on the 2017 Economic Freedom of the World Index. A report, including recommendations, would be published afterwards to guide policy making.

In a presentation on the Economic Freedom of the World Index, Mr Fred McMahon, Resident Fellow, Frazier Institute disclosed that Ghana ranked 103 out of 159 countries worldwide in the 2017 and 16th in Africa.

He said the government needed to put in stringent measures to improve key areas of the index which were size of government, legal systems and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulations.

He said the government needed to check its spending and ensure that tax exemptions did not favour only the rich, noting that economic freedom was prerequisite for civil freedom, poverty reduction and development.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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