Deputy Finance Minister defends 3 new tax bills

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Ms. Abena Osei-Asare, the Deputy Minister of Finance, has defended the new tax bills being presented to Parliament today. 

She argued that these bills are urgently needed to support the government’s revenue mobilization efforts and to revive the struggling economy.

Ms. Osei-Asare stated that the passing of these bills will also help the government provide aid to vulnerable individuals who have been severely impacted by Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war.

“This is to support the economy to get back on track and implement the agenda of supporting the vulnerable who have been hit hard by Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war,” she said in an interview on Citi FM.

“Inasmuch as we are raising revenue, we also need to look at the vulnerable who have been hit hard and these are the revenues that we believe that if we raise we can use some to support them.”

She added that the bills are necessary for effective budget implementation and increasing Tax-to-GDP from less than 13% to the sub-Saharan average of 18%.

“As a country, we need to mobilise our own domestic revenue to pursue our own national development agenda and so these are some of the things we can do to raise revenue. As we speak if you compare the revenue we raise to our GDP we are still way below the West African target of below 16 to 18 per cent we are still doing 13 per cent and so there is more that we feel we can do.”

Today, Parliament will vote on several bills related to income tax, excise duty, excise tax stamp, growth, and sustainability levy.

If approved, these bills will allow for the implementation of the $3 billion IMF Programme staff-level agreement.

The government has completed various measures to meet the criteria set by the IMF, such as tariff adjustments, publication of the Auditor-General’s report on Covid-19 spending, and onboarding of various funds on the Ghana integrated financial management information system.

The international and domestic bond markets are currently closed, which means the government must rely on Treasury Bills and concessional loans to finance its programmes.

She argued that it was therefore critical for Parliament to consider and approve fiscal measures to help the country recover from the current economic crisis.

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