Use 2022 budget to broaden tax coverage

BY: Daily Graphic

Last Tuesday, the Graphic Communications Group Limited, through its Graphic Business/Stanbic Breakfast Meeting, offered a unique platform for experts in economics, taxation, business and academia to make inputs into the 2022 budget expected to be laid before Parliament on November 17.

The meeting, which was on the theme “Pre-Budget 2022: Insights and Recommendations”, which was also attended by chief executives officers of various blue chip institutions in the country, small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and trade associations, sought to highlight concerns they were having as far as the economy was concerned and push a national agenda which they believed when implemented could help address the challenges faced within the economy.

To us at the Daily Graphic, we were completely satisfied with the discourse which also saw the Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Charles Adu Boahen, who attempted to allay the fears of the participants about their concerns and to reassure them of the government’s effort around the clock to address those concerns.

One other issue that was of major concern, which we expect the government to critically consider, is the age old issue about how to widen the tax net and not necessarily increase it.

We have seen many instances where governments have always found the easier way of increasing taxes for the same people and institutions that already pay but find it very difficult to rope in those who have to pay but are not doing so through strategies meant to widen the tax net.

This practice has often led to a situation where many find more innovative and crafty means to evade or avoid paying the taxes.

We are aware that the country is lagging behind most of its peers within the sub-region as far as the tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is concerned. While Ghana is doing below 15 per cent, countries in the sub-region are hovering around an average of 18 per cent.

This clearly calls for further action by the government to do all it can to rope in the informal sector where the majority of the people who do not honour their obligations to the state are found.

To us, we fully agree with the Tax and Financial Consultant, Dr Abdallah Ali-Nakyea, when he called on the government to use the 2022 budget to broaden the tax net to raise more revenue.

Dr Ali-Nakyea, who is also a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, said expanding the tax net to cover new people and institutions that were outside the net, would shore up revenue inflow to fund development.

We also think it would be a good idea when he said that professional bodies had to make tax clearance certificates a prerequisite for admitting members to the bodies to practise their professions.

One other issue that came up was one around the ‘dreaded’ property tax which the various assemblies have not been able to effectively do.

The Daily Graphic finds that failure not only unfortunate but a clear lack of planning to ensure that the process to have all property owners honour that obligation is achieved.

We believe that instead of having people pay a lump sum at the end of the year, like other panellists suggested, the payment has to be spread out.

That is, it should be made a monthly bill to ease the payment stress on those eligible.

Again, we should be ready to ensure that monies collected in a particular area as property taxes are not used to develop other areas because such a practice will discourage the residents from paying.

We at the Daily Graphic think that these and more are critical to our growth and also a way to raise more and borrow less for our development.

As a government, it is our fervent hope that all the issues raised will be considered in the upcoming budget so that the people can easily align with the budget once laid and implementation started.