The 2022 budget must highlight realistic and innovative strategies that would help widen the tax net, Mr Isaac Appiah Amankwa, a lecturer, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Catholic University College of Ghana (CUCG), said on Tuesday.
He said it was unfortunate that about 15.7 million out of the 30.8 million Ghanaian population paid their taxes and rates.
On his expectation of the 2022 budget statement to be presented to Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Amankwa said he was worried the majority of businesses in the informal sector did not pay tax.
Mr Amankwa told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that Ghanaians were already over-burdened, saying the introduction of new taxes and levies would worsen the situation.
“Already there are numerous taxes in the system. So I think what the budget should do is to highlight specific strategies that would push every taxpayer to pay his or her tax, and this would position the nation well to generate the required revenue needed for development.
“The problem here has nothing to do with the introduction of new taxes and levies but rather how the government would ensure informal sector actors pay their taxes, rates and levies,” he said.
Mr Amankwa said the upward adjustment in petroleum taxes amid COVID-19 negatively impacted the private sector and called on the government to reduce taxes on petroleum for businesses to thrive.
“As the engine of growth, the private sector is not expanding because of the huge operational cost due to the high tariffs on petroleum. Fuel cuts across every sector of the economy and if something is not done immediately many businesses would fold up,” he said.
Mr Amankwa noted that the government finances were already over-stretched, hence the need for the nation to create an enabling environment for the private sector to grow, position it well to create employment opportunities and absorb many of the unemployed population.
“Looking at our situation now, it is not economically prudent for the government to employ people. So what I anticipate is that provisions in the 2022 budget would favour private sector growth for job and wealth creation,” he added.
Mr Amankwa said although the government was doing well before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the high cost of utility tariffs and petroleum remained unfavourable to businesses and economic activities.
He, however, commended the government for bringing down the policy and lending rates to 13.5 per cent and 23.0 per cent respectively but added the government ought to do more to drop the exchange rate as well.