It’s indeed sad to read various articles on the web especially ghanaweb.com and some radio stations asking the government of Ghana to remove tax on private Universities in Ghana. I have also head from some private university chairs who have argued that if the government does not remove the tax impose on them; they will have no option than to increase student’s tuition fees to pay the tax.
It looks like these private institutions are dishonest and have failed over the years to tell the people of Ghana how much profit they have made and how those profits help them improve their respective institutions. If the heads of these institutions have showed clearly how they run their schools and the benefit of tax exemption has help them charged their students lower fees then people can understand their cry which has no basis which I will explain soon.
First of all, no single private school in Ghana runs for loss for more than a year. These guys over the years have made profits beyond reason. If any of them say it’s a lie, let them make their financial statements public for just the past ten years. This should include their income statement, cash flow, and balance sheet. I don’t need their statement of retained earnings for now. I see their cries as babies who always cry when there is no cause for alarm. If realities come that they should contribute for development they are complaining. Who do the owners of these schools think should pay tax for them to get all government services? The man or woman who works at the ministry of education who fill all the paper work for them to kick start their school is being paid by the tax payer that is the ordinary Ghanaian. Why do these professionals say that when they make profit from their business they should not contribute to the growth and development of the nation that helps them get their success?
Secondly, I see these guys as academic hypocrites. I heard a professor tell the media that if the government does not remove the tax, they will have no choice than to pass on the tax to the students which I know they can do. What they will do is simple, if for example they want 500,000gh cedis as profit, there is a way to calculate the tax you have to pay which you can create a model to generate that. But the government is not asking for tax in order to increase fees of students. The tax is supposed to be on the profit they make. So if the year comes to an end and the school does not have any profit, they do not have to pay any tax, period! The question then becomes why are they crying so much in the public? This is the reason why they are crying; now that the government is going to tax them, there is the need for these institutions to follow proper accounting procedure and financial regulations which they have not been following over the years. Since most of these institutions are considered tax exempt, when they import items into the country, they are exempted of so many taxes at the port which some of them play dubious deals in their importations.
Some of the personnel of the institutions buy cars for the personal use but uses the schools names which now have to reflect on their assets or it will be a cause for investigation during auditing. These institutions are dishonest because they know that every business that makes profit over the years deserves to pay tax to help develop the country. They ask for good roads, water, and telecommunication to their facilities but expect poor Ghanaians to pay for them.
Thirdly, these institutions, most of them are crooks. They claim that they are none profit organization, which means they are not in business solely to make profit. So then the question I ask simply is “if the government asks you to pay say 20% or 30% of your profit, why you want to pass it on to the student when you claim that you are not in business for profit? Do you now see my point of hypocrisy and academic dishonesty? It’s not only when you cheat in exams or use someone’s data with no proper citation that you are dishonest but also when you lie to protect your personal interest as well.
They should tell us how much it cost to run their institution a year and how much they charge their students? If you are not making profit, why do you have to worry? Most of these institutions especially the private Universities are using the government lecturers who are supposed to teach but sometimes leave their lectures and go and teach at private schools at the expense of the public schools but when the month comes go for their salaries with no shame. The government needs to check these schools and the instructors they are using. They claim they are serving the common good of society. They should tell us who didn’t pay his/her fees and was allowed to graduate freely? How many students are on scholarships? Most of these institutions under declare their salaries which are going to show up if they should now follow strict accounting procedures and financial regulations of Ghana.
Finally, if the private institutions that makes profit from their business should be exempted from paying tax, then every business in Ghana should not also pay tax as they are also serving the common good for the people of Ghana. You educate people to gain knowledge to be good citizen but other business entities also provide services that keep them alive. They even employ students to be gainful employees after you have trained them with no job, so they should rather be exempted from paying tax like the way USA is doing now with companies that hire and keep workers. Ghana private institutions especially the Universities should stop this nonsense story and help build a better Ghana for all to succeed.
MBA Finance/Business Analytics
UTA/SMU Texas, USA
Risk Management Analyst