Workers Day: Scrap Nuisance Taxes On Products- TUC To Government
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has insisted that the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo must remove taxes on all petroleum products as a way of showing his cares about the plight of Ghanaians.
Secretary-General of the TUC during the May Day celebration on Sunday said “The 15 pesewas reduction offered by government is not enough , suspending all taxes and levies on fuel in these challenging times will also demonstrate to Ghanaians that our government really cares and it is sensitive to the plight of the good people of Ghana.”
President Akufo-Addo responded to him saying that removing taxes on petroleum products will reduce government revenues by some four billion cedis.
At this time, he said when the government is determined to expand Government revenues in order to increase our capacity to finance our own development, can we afford to reduce tax revenues by four billion cedis (GH¢4 billion)?
Government is currently confronted by very tight financing conditions, in the wake of inadequate domestic revenue mobilisation, he said.
He said “Indeed, some of the revenues from these same taxes on petroleum products is what is used to pay some of the salaries of some of the seven hundred thousand (700,000) public sector workers on Government’s payroll. We are addressing the issue of fuel price increases by implementing measures that are succeeding in stabilising the exchange rate, a key determinant of fuel prices. Government is also working hard to ensure reliable supply and availability of petroleum products, thereby preventing shortages, a phenomenon which is being experienced in some other neighbouring countries. By the same token, we are keeping the lights on in Ghana.
“We should bear in mind that, even though we are a modest producer of crude oil, with a current output of one hundred and forty-eight thousand (148,000) barrels per day, we are still a net importer of petroleum products. We, therefore, continue to be vulnerable to the price volatilities of the world market for petroleum products.
“Nonetheless, intense efforts are being made to rehabilitate the Tema Oil Refinery, to enable it contribute to stabilising petroleum prices, which should see the light of day very soon. We are also encouraging private companies to establish refineries in the country, one of which is eighty percent (80%) complete, and is expected to be commissioned before the end of this year.
“Secretary General, as we work to address these issues, we cannot take adhoc measures that will only give temporary reprieve, and only aggravate the situation even more in the medium to long-term. As much as possible, let us use existing institutions and sustainable measures to address these concerns.
“With respect to emoluments for article 71 office holders, which, according to official data, constitute less than one percent (1%) of tax revenues, we have to deal with issues of equity within our constitutional framework, and call for the collaboration of the Executive and Legislature to address the issue.”
When the TUC made the call earlier, an Energy Expert, Mr Kwadwo Poku said it was not possible for the government to meet their demands.
Mr Poku said removing all the levies was not achievable hence, cannot be supported.
He explained that the government derives revenue from these same taxes in order to be able to pay TUC members who are working for the government.
If these taxes are removed, how is the government going to get money to pay the same workers? He asked.
“If the TUC is saying all taxes and levies should be suspended, that is no feasible, it is not possible for government to suspend all the taxes.
“We live in a country where we develop countries with taxes. TUC whose members are mostly working for government get paid their salaries from these taxes so if government suspends all and levies from petroleum products how do they expect government to pay salaries to its members?
“When the TUC is making such calls they should make reasonable calls that that some of us can support,” he said .
BY : YESU SUANI KWABENA MATHEW