Ghana: Maiden budget of new government highlighted by Ghana media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The maiden budget of Ghana’s new government that seeks to remove taxes to give relief to the population, stimulate growth and create jobs was the main story in the Ghanaian media this week.

'Govt initiates major tax cuts to stimulate growth in 2017 Budget', was the headline of the state-owned Graphic which reported that the government had set in motion measures to actualise some of its campaign promises with major tax reliefs in its budget statement for the 2017 financial year.

It said the reliefs were meant to prop up the private sector, which was expected to be the engine of growth to create jobs for the masses.

The budget with the theme: “Sowing the seeds for growth and jobs,” was presented to parliament by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta.

He said the government would abolish the one per cent special import tax, market tolls paid by female porters, the 17.5 per cent Value Added Tax/National Health Insurance Levy (VAT/NHIL) on financial services and the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL on domestic airline tickets.

He also announced the abolition of the five per cent VAT/NHIL on real estate, import levies on spare parts, the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL on selected imported medicines not produced locally, replacing the 17.5 per cent VAT/NHIL with a three per cent flat rate for traders on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), as well as giving tax credits and other incentives to businesses that employ young graduates.

The Graphic said Mr Ofori-Atta also announced the reduction of the special petroleum tax rate from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent, reduced the national electrification scheme levy from five per cent to three per cent and abolished levies imposed on religious institutions by local authorities.

The reliefs, the minister said, were meant to make the cost of doing business cheaper and set the stage for job creation.

In another story published by the Graphic with the headline, 'Govt aims to put Ghana beyond aid', it said the government outlined ambitious policy initiatives that would spur economic growth and boost its industrialisation drive.

The newspaper said the initiatives were expected to provide more than 800,000 jobs in the first year, scrap some taxes to propel private sector growth and some social interventions that will bring relief to the poor and vulnerable.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the plan to implement the government’s policy of establishing one factory in every district was expected to provide at least 350,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Under the policy, one medium-to-large factory will be established across the 216 districts in Ghana, an initiative which is expected to be driven by the private sector.

The Graphic in another story said the Minority in Parliament described the budget statement as a deception devoid of actionable measures to achieve the set targets.

It said, for instance, that the budget failed to scrap taxes such as the Energy Sector Levy that the government said it would abolish.

Besides, it said, the intended withdrawal of import duties on spare parts was an attempt to deceive spare parts dealers and Ghanaians at large.

Former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, said the budget was bereft of policy initiatives to achieve the gross domestic product (GDP), inflation and other targets set for the year.

He said the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised to reduce taxes by huge margins and scrap others, noting, however, that the budget only mentioned some minimal reduction in taxes to completely deceive Ghanaians.

He said the removal of taxes on imported spare parts would make Ghana a dumping ground for all kinds of metals.

Former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr George Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, said he did not see any hope in the budget, as it did not outline significant measures needed to propel socio-economic growth.
-0- PANA MA/AR 4March2017

04 march 2017 07:54:49

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