The Ghana Employers Association (GEA) is advocating the harmonisation of fees, levies and charges of state institutions on businesses to avoid its proliferation.
According to the Association, such fees, levies and charges paid by businesses to regulators had become impediments to businesses in the face of current economic challenges.
Currently, the Ghana Tourism Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Energy Commission, Petroleum Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), among others, were all charging various fees and levies which were borne by the businesses operating within the sector.
Speaking at a forum on the 2023 economic and budget statement of government, Alex Frimpong, Chief Executive of GEA, said, because revenues from such fees, levies and charges, paid by businesses do not flow into the consolidated fund, there was the erroneous impression that some businesses do not pay enough taxes.
The forum offered the platform for various groups to make inputs into the 2023 economic and budget statement being prepared by the Ministry of Finance.
In the face of revenue shortfalls, he said, the harmonisation of levies, fees and charges by state institutions was one of the critical measures to ensure fiscal consolidation efficient revenue generation and expenditures.
He further called for speedy implementation of the tax Exemption Bill, which has been passed by Parliament, to ensure efficient and effective tax exemption management and review of the benchmark value policy to cover imported goods that were not produced locally.
Additionally, Mr Frimpong called for the automation of the collection of property taxes to avoid government officials from interfacing with the tax revenues received as well as re-introduce the road tolls with a digital collection infrastructure to diversify government revenue portfolio.
The Association, he said, was in favour of a reduction of the Electronic Transaction (E-Levy) from 1.5 per cent to 0.50 per cent while retaining the current exemptions to make the policy more attractive and pushed for a downward revision of the current minimum threshold of GH¢ 20,000 for bank transfers to retain the tax revenue.
To promote efficient expenditure management, he urged the government to review and streamline its programmes to make them achieve their intended objectives without any significant fiscal pressure.
He called on government to abolish the Nurses and Teacher training allowances and provide opportunities for students to access students’ loan facility which was available for Universities and Technical Universities.
Mr Frimpong advised the government to put in place a mechanism to identify and provide direct support to local businesses that have the potential of producing the required intermediate and final goods to prevent the use of the country’s scarce foreign exchange on imported goods.
Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), noted of the importance in mainstreaming the ideas of labour groups, employers and employees in the design of policy towards economic recovery.
He said the challenging times the country faces required the inputs of all citizens to put Ghana back on path to economic growth.
He bemoaned what he termed “compromise of our values” saying that “this is time for all of us to be compassionate and work together in finding solutions to our challenges.”
The TUC, he said, would resist any economic support programme that would affect the employment status of any public sector worker must be made to lose their jobs.
He called for a review of the country’s trade policy which had made Ghana a dumping ground for basic products which could be produced domestically.
Dr Baah noted that sweeping liberalisation of imports had made it difficult for production to take place outside of the natural resource sector, hence the stagnation of the manufacturing sector.
Mr Kenneth Koomson, Deputy General Secretary, Ghana Federation of Labour, urged government to dedicate some part of the financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to industry to help protect jobs and move them out of operational challenges.
He urged for depolitisation of measures to curb economic challenges saying “this is the time to compel the political authorities to work together in the interest of the country.”
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS & RHODA AMPONSAH