Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has said as part of government’s commitment to fighting corruption, the criminal code will be amended to move corruption offenses from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Presenting the 2017 Budget, dubbed ‘Asempa Budget’ on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, the Finance Minister said making corruption a felony will deter the increasing spate of corruption at government agencies.
“Government will pursue a combination of institutional and legislation reform as part of our anti-corruption policy including establishing the office of the Special Prosecutor,” he said on Thursday.
These legislative reforms also include “passing the right to information bill as part of our tools in fighting corruption. We will not pay lip service to fighting corruption,” he said.
Among the highlights of the current administration’s maiden budget statement on Thursday is a pledge to remove import taxes on vehicle spare parts.
Other policy initiatives include the following:
Abolish the 1 percent Special Import Levy;
Abolish the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on financial services;
Abolish the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on selected imported medicines, that are not produced locally;
Abolish the 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on domestic airline tickets;
Abolish the 5 percent VAT/NHIL on Real Estate sales;
Abolish excise duty on petroleum
Reduce special petroleum tax rate from 17.5 percent to 15 percent;
Abolish duty on the importation of spare parts;
Abolish levies imposed on kayayei by local authorities;
Reduce National Electrification Scheme Levy from 5 percent to 3 percent;
Reduce Public Lighting Levy from 5 percent to 2 percent;
Abolish levies imposed on religious institutions by local authorities.
The Minister said in order to achieve these policy objectives and still secure economic growth government would have to seal all revenue mobilization loopholes.
“Revenue administration remains a challenge. To boost revenue streams, we will strengthen tax administration, reduce tax exemptions, plug revenue loopholes and leakages and combat tax evasion, especially at our ports. We will broaden the tax base whilst reducing and abolishing some taxes and levies,” he said.
He adds: “The National Identification Scheme, a priority project of this administration, which we intend to re-launch this year, will support our efforts to rope in the economically active but undocumented citizens and the informal sector of the economy thereby broadening the tax base and accelerating financial inclusion. We will protect the public purse.”
Public sector corruption remains a major bottleneck for Ghana’s economic growth.
Last year, the local chapter of Transparency International, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), said “the (Corruption Perception Index) CPI 2015 scored Ghana 47 out of clean score of 100 and ranked the country 56 out of 168 countries.”