Former president John Dramani Mahama has called out the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for failing to stick to its campaign promise of taxing businesses less and increasing production.
Speaking at the 7th Ghana CEO Summit and Expo in Accra on Monday May 22, 2023, he said excessive taxing of businesses has seen some companies close down, while others have relocated to neighbouring countries.
Mr Mahama stated that “having familyand friends who own businesses, I know about the endless tax audits dating back several years that you continue to face. The call to appear at EOCO (the Economic and Organized Crime Unit), the harassment over social security payments, multiple fees and charges for clearing imports and exports at the ports, etc.”
“Indeed, there are many of you today who use the free port of Lome to import your goods and track them all the way into Ghana because of the plethora of fees and charges that we have at our ports. In any case, who can tell me what happened to the famous mantra, and I quote ‘from taxation to production? There is dwindling production and gargantuan taxation.”
Mr Mahama indicated that despite the taxes the government has placed on businesses, the conditionalities of the government’s programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will see many more businesses face some challenges going forward.
He said the government did not only fail to increase production and aid businesses, but has also caused Ghana to lose its position as the best place to do business in West Africa.
Mr Mahama berated government officials for lying to Ghanaians with “doctored fiscal and budget data” about the state of the economy last year, only to run to the IMF to seek a bailout.
“The higher tax burden imposed recently and the government’s agreements with IMF to remove the majority of VAT and duty exemptions is a very challenging environment for businesses that have decided to remain in Ghana despite the poor investment climate that has been created by this administration.”
“Government’s agreement with the fund to increase electricity and water tariffs quarterly creates an additional burden. And let’s face it as captains of industry, you know that Ghana has lost her pride of place as the best place to do business in West Africa. The flowers that attracted you to set up your businesses in Ghana are gradually withering away,” he said.
Mr Mahama promised that if elected into office, his government will ensure meaningful partnerships with the private sector both domestic and foreign for sustainable growth, to unleash the potential of the private sector to contribute its share to uplifting the Ghanaian economy.
“I do not see the private sector as merely an avenue to fund our taxes,” he noted.
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