The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has expressed dissatisfaction with the imposition of numerous taxes on Ghanaians by government recently.
Kofi Ofosuhene, popularly known as Kofi Kapito, CEO of CPA, made this known at a press conference in Accra yesterday.
“The fear of all these impositions on the Ghanaian or the consumer is that its objectives might not be achieved. Human beings are just like water. When water is pushed against its limit, it has to find any available means to gush out. In the same way, when the people don’t have the ability to pay, they have to devise weird means to pay, hence the widespread corruption. And this is what we don’t look at in this country.”
“All we hear is pay realistic tariffs. The question I want to ask people in charge is whether they have also considered paying realistic salaries. So how can the Ghanaian be able to afford all the increases? When minimum wage is about $11 per hour in the US, it is GH¢7.00 a day. So how can people be able to pay realistic prices as the person making $11 an hour minimum in the US? The transport price hikes are also another issue because if you touch petrol you touch everything.”
Is government paying realistic salaries?
Mr Ofosuhene said government has to ensure that taxes levied on Ghanaians are realistic.
“If it increases fuel prices by 27 percent, and it does not pay realistic salaries, you can imagine the repercussions. This is the country where there are double or triple digits increases.”
Tariff increases in other economies
He also made reference to the US government’s recent increase of its lending rate by 0.25 percent, which sent the whole world into ‘chaos,’ adding that in Ghana, increases are as high as 59 percent and 67 percent, meanwhile, the efficiency of the utility companies do not reflect in the services they render.
“We are appealing to the President. We want to say that the ramifications of the increases are too serious because like I said, if you push the people of Ghana to pay all these things, I am afraid, he can fight corruption.”
Corruption in civil service
He continued: “We are in a country that most civil servants do not live on their official income. We know the salaries of some of them but if you look at their lifestyle – their house and car, you will ask – where did they get all that money?
“In the advanced world, there is opportunity for people to take up one or two part-time jobs to support their normal income. But in Ghana, even the normal jobs, people are not getting them, let alone part-time. And government feels complacent to burden the poor masses with ‘killer taxes.”
An IMF prescription
Mr Ofosuhene averred: “People might say we went to the IMF to seek such conditions to help fix our economy but I have lived for so many years in America. How many times are taxes increased there or in Europe? The same things that were bought in the UK or in the US some 5 years ago, if those same things should be bought today, their prices would have gone up by two percent.”
“In Ghana for the past two years, how many times have we had utility tariff increases? Water, school fees, transportation, cost of food, etc. Now how much is cement? The cheapest one on the market is GH¢30 per bag. Now talk of housing. I am not against taxes but the new impositions are too much.”
The CPA CEO called for other effective ways to manage the country’s economy instead of punishing Ghanaians with tax and tariff increases every now and then.
By Samuel Boadi