Pressure group OccupyGhana has asked Government to recover all monies lost in the Auditor-General’s reports before it implements the proposed Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy).
It also wants Government to statutorily enforce the fiscal transparency and accountability regime and ensure the publication of revenue from the E-Levy and details of its disbursement on a quarterly basis.
The Group stated this in a statement issued on Monday.
The statement noted that while Government was focused on the revenue side, there was little effort in reining in the expenditure side and, critically, recovering monies lost to the State.
It said, for instance, the 2020 Auditor-General’s Report showed that fiscal/financial irregularities amounted to a record GHc12.85 billion, approximately 85 per cent of, which represented trade debtors, staff debtors and outstanding loans.
“Simply, Government and its agents gave out credit facilities and then neglected to collect the debts for criminally cringe-worthy reasons that the Auditor-General sets out, such as no debt collection policies or credit controls, indifference, improper record-keeping and non-documentation of agreements, and non-compliance with rules and regulations.
“Government (which is demanding more taxes) and its supposedly independent Auditor-General have all but abandoned the constitutional demand that persons found culpable for misusing Government funds be surcharged and made to pay,” the statement said.
It noted that although the Constitution and the Supreme Court decision in OccupyGhana v. Attorney-General demanded that all such culpable officials and “beneficiaries” were surcharged, the Auditor-General had reverted to merely making “absurd and weak recommendations,” adding that Government and Parliament were only “too happy to play along with this farce.”
“It is, therefore, not too surprising that both the Auditor-General and Attorney-General have refused to answer our repeated requests for information on these matters. This coordinated silence is revealing because if the Auditor-General and Attorney-General had been doing their work, they would have been happy to share that information with Ghanaians”.
“It is difficult to reconcile this overall Government attitude with a demand for new taxes.”
Government, it stressed, must renew commitment to recover all monies declared by the Auditor-General to have been misused.
Government, in its 2022 budget announced a 1.75 per cent charge on all electronic transactions as part of efforts to rope in the informal sector into the tax net.
OccupyGhana offers fiscal recommendations to Government
The statement also advocated the full implementation of income tax laws and an active roadmap to double the number of income taxpayers yearly and ensure that all eligible tax income payers were brought within the income tax net.
The statement, among other things, recommended an improved taxpayer education to improve voluntary tax compliance; implement the Electronic Point of Sale devices to verify sales data and VAT collections; increase the corporate income base by passing the Tax Exemptions Bill to reduce tax exemptions and provide the framework to properly implement property taxation, property being a better-targeted proxy of income than momo transactions.
“Further, it is time for proper fiscal transparency and fiscal accountability. After several years of fiscal inefficiencies, no Government should use Ghana’s low tax revenue-GDP ratio as justification to impose a tax like the E-Levy, without a social contract that is based on fiscal transparency and accountability.”
“Thus, if the E-Levy is approved by Parliament, that legislation must also require Government to submit itself to a fiscally transparent and accountable regime wherein every quarter of the year, Government will at the minimum, publish the revenue from the E-Levy and details of how the revenue was disbursed,” the statement said.