Mid-year budget review: 5 political parties share views

BY: Victor Kwawukume
Akua Donkor — GFP, Paa Kow Ackon — PPP and Hassan Ayariga — APC
Akua Donkor — GFP, Paa Kow Ackon — PPP and Hassan Ayariga — APC

Five political parties have expressed mixed reactions to a purported attempt by the government to increase some taxes in its mid-year budget review which is expected to be presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta tomorrow.

Four of them, the National Democratic Party (NDP), the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) have kicked against any increment in taxes or the introduction of new ones.

But the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) is of the view that a tax increment was indispensable to attaining national goals.

Do not toy with expectations

Speaking in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Alhaji Mohammed Frimpong, said if it was true that taxes were to be increased then caution ought to be taken so that it did not adversely affect mass consumption of the low-income bracket, particularly staple foods in the long run.

The NDP, he said, believed the government would not sacrifice with the expectation of the masses for any other goal.

“The safest thing for revenue increase will be augmenting production and plugging holes of all uncovered wastage of resources for which the government is showing strong indication,” he added.

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The Founder and Leader of the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), Madam Akua Donkor, was of the view that it would be politically immoral for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to win the elections based on the promise of abolishing taxes only for it to turn around now.

For her, it would amount to a grand deception of Ghanaians and was confident that Ghanaians would not forgive the NPP if it went ahead with the increment.

Doing the right thing

Mr Hassan Ayariga, the Founder and Leader of the All People’s Congress (APC) said the problem of governments, past and present, was about doing the right or wrong thing and that governments over the years had been doing the wrong thing by not ensuring the proper collection of taxes but always imposing and increasing them.

However, he pointed out because the tax net had not been broadened, there were still a large chunk of companies that were evading taxes.

The way forward, he said, was to build a robust institution that would ensure that all those who were supposed to pay taxes were roped into the tax net.

But should the government go ahead to increase taxes, he said businesses and companies would fold up and the economy would be worse off.

“People are suffering already and to increase taxes will bring more hardship,” Mr Ayariga posited.

Mr Kow Ackon, who is in charge of Communications for the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), said the party believed in the biblical story of the parable of the talents where those who worked well with the resources made available by the master were given additional resources.

For that matter, he was of the view that if the government was able to account for the taxes it had already collected and Ghanaians were satisfied, they would not hesitate to agree for more taxes to be introduced or increased.

However, he said with the leakages still prevalent in the system, the national basket would continue to leak no matter how many taxes were introduced and the quantum of revenue raked in.

“We are not ready for any tax increment. The loopholes should be plugged first. Also, when the government is able to successfully implement the national identification project, we will know all those who are supposed to pay taxes and bring them in,” he said.

Consider the national interest first

Describing the situation the country finds itself as difficult, the First Vice Chairman of the GCPP, Mr John Amekah, was of the view that while Ghanaians would ordinarily not want taxes to be increased, there were national programmes that might suffer if the required revenue was not raised to ensure their sustainability.

He mentioned the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme as examples of programmes that might suffer if the requisite funding was not realised.

He, therefore, urged Ghanaians to be patriotic and take any increment in their stride since the issue was one that bordered on the greater national interest.