General News of Thursday, 15 February 2018
Ghana is a broke country, but the government has failed to disclose to Ghanaians, the true state of the finances, Energy Expert Ishmeal Agyekumhene has claimed.
Reacting to issues regarding government’s proposal for a 2 per cent reduction in the Special Petroleum Tax on 3FM’s Sunrise morning show Thursday, Mr. Agyakumhene explained government lacks the finances to run the county, hence the introduction of such taxes to generate revenue.
“What I know is that this country is broke and that is something they are not telling us. I am almost certain that if the 15% is so easy for them to remove, they would not have hesitated or gone to parliament only to ask for a 2% reduction,” he claimed.
According to Agyekumhene, the Special Petroleum Tax has been factored into the 2018 budget as a major source of revenue generation, hence the difficulty on the part of government in having to scrap it off completely.
“The truth of the matter is that, [in] this country we don’t have money. Taking it off completely is going to have a very significant impact on government projected income in 2018,” he argued.
In his estimation, government is financially handicapped, but is failing to communicate such to the general public.
“One of the things that I am not sure this administration is telling us is how dire our finances are. We have not been able to mobilize enough revenue in the first year to be able to say we are letting go of some of the things that were introduced for a specific purpose,” he said.
‘Lazy’ revenue generation approach
He has meanwhile accused government for using such means as petroleum taxes to generate revenue for the country.
“Petroleum taxes are a very lazy way of government getting money. They only compute how many volumes of fuel have been sold and slap the taxes on them,” he said.
According to Agyekumhene, the numerous policies such as Free SHS implementation requires a lot of resources to run, and this has necessitated government’s excessive need for finances to keep up.
The Finance Ministry on February 14, laid a Special Petroleum Tax Amendment Bill before Parliament seeking to reduce the Special Petroleum Tax from its current 15% to 13%.
This comes on the back of calls from some Ghanaians especially the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) to register their displeasure with increasing prices on petroleum products.
Some Energy Sector players have also urged government to scrap the Special Petroleum Tax in order to lessen the burden on consumers of petroleum products.