Today, we dedicate our editorial to a concern raised by a reader in a letter we published in our Letters column last Monday.
Nana Ama, a resident of Accra, wrote:
“I am wondering why life is becoming so difficult for some while others seem to be enjoying luxurious lives. School fees, money for food, clothing and shelter are a big problem. Yet it appears some Ghanaians are having things rosy. They are buying big cars, building mansions and going for holidays anywhere they want.
“Why are we, as a people, not questioning the source of wealth of these people? What kind of work earns one so much money to enable such luxurious lifestyle? I think the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) should be investigating the sources of funding for such people.”
Genuine concerns have been raised by a good number of Ghanaians regarding their living standards, all pointed at the fact that times are hard, leading to the adoption of austere measures in the homes of the average Ghanaian.
One observation that requires critical attention, however, is the fact that even in challenging times as this, there are categories of people who clearly seem not to be affected by the policy of austerity.
The Daily Graphic notes that in a society like ours, it is not very easy to determine the exact incomes of persons, even those with whom we work in the same organisations.
But when someone who should be in a certain bracket of earning continuously exhibits so much affluence, evident in lavish spending and a luxurious lifestyle, then questions begin to emerge as to his or her sources of income.
Elsewhere, modalities exist to ensure that any expenditure made by an individual outside his or her scope of income becomes the subject of investigation.
But here in Ghana, it is fashionable for people to flaunt wealth that does not conform to their income levels in a manner that is, unfortunately, admired by others.
Quite often, such people become instant celebrities or opinion leaders and no important event takes place without them being invited as special guests, in the hope that they will make substantial monetary contributions to the event.
The Daily Graphic believes that the time has come for us, as a nation, to begin to question such things that go on in society.
While not contesting the fact that there are hardworking Ghanaians who are enjoying the fruits of their labour, it is also true that there are some who have acquired wealth illegally or failed to disclose their sources of income and are, therefore, fleecing the state of taxes.
This leaves the tax burden mostly on honest salaried workers who are sometimes seen as never-do-wells by some family members and friends. That is why we associate ourselves with our concerned reader and implore the GRA to be more proactive and not only wait for people to walk to its offices to disclose their incomes but have a special surveillance department that will look beyond what a person discloses as income.
If our development should progress as a nation, especially this time that we are rated a lower middle-income country and need to raise more revenue internally, then every pesewa counts, for which reason all loopholes in the tax system must be effectively plugged.