The Minority caucus in parliament is accusing the government of introducing hidden taxes after announcing a reduction or in some cases, a complete removal of some taxes in the 2017 budget.
Government in the 2017 budget announced the scrapping of some 11 taxes it termed as ‘nuisance’ explaining that the move will lessen the burden on consumers and businesses and boost the private sector which is the engine of growth.
The abolished taxes which mostly affected businesses operating in the aviation, finance and real estate industries included the one percent Special Import Levy, 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on financial services, 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on selected imported medicines that were not produced locally, import duties on raw materials and machinery for production within the context of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Protocol and 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on domestic airline tickets.
The rest were the 5 percent VAT/NHIL on Real Estate sales, Excise duty on petroleum, Special Petroleum tax rate from 17.5 percent to 15 percent, duties on the importation of spare parts, levies imposed on ‘Kayayei’ and a taxation on the gains from the realisation of securities listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange or publicly held securities approved by the SEC.
However, at a roundtable discussion Monday to review the extent to which the 2017 budget was implemented, the minority said Ghanaians are not seeing the impact of the tax reforms because government clandestinely introduced new taxes.
Addressing the roundtable discussion, the Minority spokesperson on Finance and a former deputy Finance minister, Cassiel Ato Forson said; “It is clear that the NPP government policy that profess to shift the focus of the Ghanaian economy from taxation to production as was stated in the 2017 budget statement was reckless, regressive and backfiring.”
“This is because they have resulted in various tax evasion and non-compliance in VAT revenues and shortfalls in revenue performance. Despite the hike, the 2percent component which is still active and contrary to the NPP manifesto promise as well as the impression created in the 2017 budget, may I take this opportunity to remind the NPP that under the original sunset plan the 2percent component is expected to expire in December 2017. We are therefore calling on the government and the Minister for finance to effect the removal of the 2percent component of the special import levy in the impending 2018 budget,” he added.