Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta has challenged critics who are grumbling about not feeling the impact of the remarkable performance of Ghana’s economy in their pockets to show evidence of their tax returns.
The soft-spoken economist cannot understand how critics will huff and puff over economy yet refuse to pay their taxes for the development of the country.
At a media engagement, Monday, the Minister painted a rosy picture of Ghana’s economic performance in just a year of the Akufo-Addo government.
He also painted a gloomy picture of non-payment of taxes by citizens with a depressing VAT penetration rate of 11% saying, “Individuals are not paying their taxes.”
“If that nice suited gentleman says I am not feeling it in my pocket ask the person whether he has even filed his income tax before,” he said, adding, it is incumbent for everyone to fulfil their part of the responsibility as a country.
After inheriting an economy with an inflation rate of over 15%, GDP of 3.6%, in 2016, Ken Ofori Atta says Ghana’s economy in 2017 and 2018 can only be described as a “remarkable story.”
“The question that we should ask is how can you inherit a budget deficit of 9.3% of GDP, proceed to reduce taxes at a cost of 1 billion cedis, bring down inflation, bring down interest rate, increase economic growth from 3.6 to 8% plus increase your international reserves to over 7 billion; maintain relative exchange rate stability, reduce debt to GDP ratio and the rate of debt accumulation,” he stated.
He was not done. For a country that has suffered from debts to the NHIA, GETFund, school feeding etc, the Finance Minister said the Akufo-Addo government has been faithful.
He said the government has paid “almost half of arrears inherited; stay current on obligations to statutory funds; restore teacher training and nursing allowances, double capitation grant, implement free SHS and yet reduce the deficit from 9.3% to 6.3%,” he chronicled, adding this can only be a remarkable story.
In a quick rebuttal, the Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central Albert Adongo said the figures churned out by the Minister are contradictory from what the president provided when he addressed US state governors.
“This smacks of a confused government,” he stated in an interview with Joy News’ Evans Mensah.
He took a swipe at the Finance Minister for suggesting that critics who complain about not feeling the impact of the economic growth in their pocket must show evidence of their tax payment.
He said the Minister cannot tell critics who complain about their inability to buy food to eat to show their tax returns.
“If you say the fuel is so expensive, show your tax returns…that cannot be,” he indicated, suggesting the Minister is “intolerant.”
Translating Stable Macro into Micro benefits
Prof Godfred Bobkin who is with the University of Ghana said the figures by the Finance Minister cannot be contested.
“At the macro level, one cannot debate the figures,” he stated, adding “looking at the figures objectively government is making progress.”
He was however quick to add that government must now work at translating the macro stability to micro benefits, so that people will be able to feel the direct impact of the performance of the economy in their pockets.
He explained the main growth driver of the economy has been oil and production of hydro-carbons.
He would rather want the government to channel energies into growth with jobs, insisting a jobless growth will not necessarily benefit Ghanaians.