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Bawku Central lawmaker Mahama Ayariga has said it is unfair for the Akufo-Addo government to be taxing the people of Ghana over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
He stated while speaking on the Key Points Programme on TV3 Saturday March 20 that the freebies provided to Ghanaians during the peak of the pandemic were presented to the people as gifts hence, no one expected to pay for those giveaways.
The government proposed in the 2021 budget statement which has since been approved by the legislature the introduction of a Covid-19 Health Levy of a one percentage point increase in the National Health Insurance Levy and a one percentage point increase in the VAT Flat Rate to support expenditures related to Covid-19.
“To provide the requisite resources to address these challenges and fund these activities, government is proposing the introduction of a Covid-19 Health Levy of a one percentage point increase in the National Health Insurance Levy and a one percentage point increase in the VAT Flat Rate to support expenditures related to Covid-19,” the budget said among other things.
The government has received flak of some quarters following the introduction of the taxes because these will overburden the people in these difficult times.
Mr Ayariga told host of the Key Points Abena Tabi that “The taxes are unfair to Ghanaians. Because the relief packages were presented to us as gifts only to be told today that we are going to pay for them.”
He further stated that the solution to solving negative impact of the COVID on the economy is not increasing taxes, rather improving on the collection of the already exiting taxes.”
He also asked the government to deal with the wastages in the procurement system in order to generate revenue.
For his part, former Member of Parliament for Bantama, Mr Daniel Okyem Abokaye noted that the government could not have borrowed to deal with the ravages of the covid on the economy because that would have worsened the debt situation.
“To me it is matter of what we will to do as a nation. Do we want to borrow and put all the burden on future generation or do we have to try and support the government to be able to undertake its development agenda?” He asked.
A senior lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Dr Lord Mensah has asked the government to stop providing freebies to Ghanaians in spite of the effect of the coronavirus on the lives of the people.
He explained that since the country is no longer under lockdown, a situation that has allowed the people to go about their normal daily activities, they should be made to pay for every service rendered to them.
Dr Mensah rejected the extension for the free water supply to homes as way of ameliorating the Covid-induced conditions on Ghanaians.
The government in January this year renewed the free utility package for the poor and needy only for the three more months.
In the 21st address to the nation President Akufo-Addo said, “With the continuing difficulties occasioned by the pandemic, I want to state that government intends to continue to support the most vulnerable in our society.
“Government will, thus, continue to pay the electricity bills for our nation’s one million active lifeline customers for the next three months, i.e. January, February and March.
Additionally, all one million, five hundred thousand customers of the Ghana Water Company, whose consumption is not more than five cubic metres a month, will not pay any bills for the next three months, i.e. for the months of January, February and March.”
The package will be reviewed at the end of March, the President added.
But speaking in an interview with TV3’s Johnnie Hughes on the New Day programme Thursday March 18, Dr Mensah asked the government not to continue the programme.
“This means we have enough money or we have enough buffer to contain the necessary freebies that are coming up at the cost to the state. For me, I will say at this time we have to stop the freebies.
“I was not even in favour of any freebies when even at the heat of the COVID. But then we had no choice and we had to provide them because it had two forces.
“We had economic force and political force and I think the political force superseded the economic force and that is why we were enjoying the freebies at the point where we even had to stop it.”
He added “I was thinking they would have stopped it somewhere in last year September at the time when the lockdown had been ended and then we were still moving about doing few things for ourselves. But then we continued to December and that is where the political aspect comes in. So effectively I will say yes we shouldn’t have gone on further with the freebies at this time , we should stop it.”