Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

Budget must anchor expectations of the people

Author: Daily Graphic
Ken Ofori-Atta
Ken Ofori-Atta

With the presentation of the 2018 budget statement to Parliament slated for next Wednesday, Ghanaians are anxious about what it will contain because they expect things that will pragmatically help transform their lives for the better.

For instance, Ghanaians want the government to announce measures to address the high cost of utility tariffs, especially electricity, which have become unbearable in recent times.

Businesses, in particular, have complained about the impact of the high cost of electricity on their operations, since the high cost of electricity adds to the overheads of businesses, hence their inability to expand and create more jobs.

Again, Ghanaians expect to hear pragmatic measures to bridge the huge infrastructure gap in the country. In the area of roads, for instance, it is unfortunate how road construction has become so expensive, yet most of them do not last their stipulated validity periods and the government is forced to allocate money for their repairs.

The road sector consumes a large portion of the budget estimates and the Daily Graphic wants the government to prevail on road sector agencies to desist from awarding contracts to companies that do not have the capacity to discharge their duties.

In the area of taxes, Ghanaians want to see measures to expand the tax net to cover the large informal sector of the economy, which is often kept outside the tax bracket.

The Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA’s) nation-wide tax campaign to encourage more people to pay taxes is laudable but inadequate for the much anticipated effort to rope the informal sector into the tax net. The reason the country’s revenue mobilisation is always below appreciable levels and woeful, in comparison with expenditure levels, is that only a fraction of the population actually pays tax.

The Daily Graphic, therefore, expects the government to use the 2018 Budget to initiate far-reaching measures that can block loopholes in the revenue mobilisation system that denies the state the due revenue.

The cost of living in the country is rising and seriously affecting the disposable incomes of the people. Therefore, initiatives must also be outlined to provide safety nets for the general population, especially those who live below the poverty line.

There is no doubt that the expectations of the people are high because they want to hear concrete efforts to make living in the country better.

The 2018 Budget must, therefore, address the broad issues of access to decent jobs and shelter, basic social infrastructure and services, access to cheaper utilities, improved security and quality public investment to secure the future of the country.