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Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs in Sekondi-Takoradi who participated in the CalBank and Focus1 Media SME clinic in Takoradi, have called for more support for SMEs to continue to drive the Ghanaian economy.
The CalBank and Focus1 Media SME clinic was attended by about 180 business owners, entrepreneurs and other industry players.
With speakers from the Ghana Revenue Authority, the banking and Insurance sectors, participants had the opportunity to share their everyday challenges for expert advise and were also taken through Taxation, Digital SME Finance, Business Insurance, Book-keeping, Loan Management and SME branding.
An SME participant, Mohammed Ibn Hassan, speaking to Citi News on the sidelines of the event commended CalBank and Focus1 Media for the SME Clinic which has given participants much exposure on how to run a successful business.
Hassan, who is the CEO of an Engineering Services firm just like other participants while expressing concerns with the tax regime, called for the 2022 budget to ensure some relief for SMEs.
“The issue of tax has been an issue for SMEs in Ghan. My major worry has to do with the fact that if you have not worked, why should you pay tax? Although today we have been told that if you are able to proof to the GRA that you didn’t work or make sales something can be done. But in practice, GRA hardly believes that you have not worked especially when you have not informed the GRA. We want government to try to identify the genuine concerns that some of us have so that the numerous tax rebate that mostly foreign investors benefit from can also come to us.”
“This is important because as SMEs we contribute about 80% of employment in the country. In the past budget, our expectations were always dashed, but in the post-COVID-19 era, most of us SMEs are very expectant of government to introduce a policy that will cushion some of us so that we will be able to sustain the economy. When the business of SMEs are running well, then government can also get revenue from us and eventually there will be growth of the economy“, he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Focus1 Media, Kwame Adu-Mante, who is the brain behind the SME Clinic told Citi News they were motivated to team up with CalBank with support from Prudential Life Insurance, to organize the event for the simple reason that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises contribute about 70% of Ghana’s GDP hence it is strategic for their empowerment.
“Book-keeping is one key areas that SMEs face a lot of challenges with. In accessing finance and paying your tax, if you don’t have the right books, you can’t achieve those things. When it comes to taxation, it’s one big headache that SMEs face. Nobody wants to pay tax, and as much one has to file and pay, it’s very difficult. Again if you look at how SMEs are structured, one of the biggest challenges is that we do things not in percentage form but in value forms and these are challenges including withholding tax that during this SME clinic we have been able to address as well as Insurance policy concerns that were handled so well by Prudential Life”, he said.
Managing Director of CalBank, Philip Owiredu, while expressing satisfaction with the success of the SME Clinic urged SMEs to adhere to all that was said at the clinic to enhance their dealings with the Insurance firms and banks to attract finance.
On how government can maximize taxes from SMEs, Mr. Owiredu called for regular education.
“A lot of the questions recorded at this event were on taxation and the challenges on taxation in my view is about educating the people. This is necessary because people don’t seem to know the provisions of the taxes. So we have to get to a point of educating the people to know what their responsibilities are when it comes to taxation and what sort of support they can expect from the tax office“, he said.
An Assistant Commissioner and the Takoradi Area Head of the Ghana Revenue Authority, George Amankwa Boateng, acknowledged the call by participants for more education to understand and appreciate Ghana’s Tax regime.
He however called on SMEs to show interest in the GRA’s sensitization campaigns and act upon them.
A Chief Commercial Officer of Prudential Life Insurance Ghana, Dorithy Tsidi, in emphasizing the risks and uncertainties associated with doing business, highlighted various flexible insurance packages that could cushion SMEs in times of need, and urged SMEs to pay critical attention to insurance.
The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah, who also spoke at the SME Clinic challenged business operators to take advantage of the government’s digitalization initiatives towards the transformation of the Ghanaian economy.
The event was spiced up with side attractions like Dip and Win game of chance that saw participants win items including electrical appliances amongst others.
This was crowned with the award of certificates of participation.
Focus1 Media is the operator of
Beach 105.5 FM in Takoradi, a partner of Accra-based Citi FM.