19 April 2018

Ghanaians in Japan Urges Government to Speed Up Reforms in Key Sectors

Cross sections of Ghanaians in Japan have appealed to government to accelerate implementation of policies to further improve the business environment.

They acknowledged the wind of change; however, they were not happy with what they called slow pace of reforms in key sectors and processes such as passport acquisition and clearance of goods at the ports among others.

They made these observations to the Government delegation that was in Tokyo on a non-deal roadshow to Asia at an event organised by the Ghana Embassy in Tokyo.

Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana's Finance Minister who led the delegation assured them of government's commitment to transform the economy within the shortest possible time to attain government's vision of Ghana beyond Aid.

"The thing about governing in Ghana is we are not saying that we know all the answers. What we are promising is that we will work very hard to resolve them and also do our best not to be corrupt".

He said though the government inherited an economy on a downward trend, prudent management adopted had resulted in phenomenal achievement within a year and the macro economy stabilised.

These included abolishing of nuisance taxes, restoration of nurses and teachers' allowances, implementing the free SHS, among others, to demonstrate that government was keen on making life comfortable for Ghanaians and for businesses to thrive.

He noted that there were still challenges which needed the collective efforts of all to resolve.

He cited non-payment of taxes saying, out of six million people in the formal sector, only 1.2 million currently paid income tax, VAT penetration was also only 11 per cent in commercial areas, an indication that a lot more people were not paying taxes.

To improve domestic tax revenue, he said, the Vice President was championing efforts to digitise the system, such as National Identification Card, introduction of the Tax Identification Number and paperless system at the ports.

On taxes at the ports, he explained that government had not increased taxes, but rather, with digitisation of the systems at the ports, and enforcement of rules, people were now paying the actual duty on goods.

"We are ready for some radical moves especially as we digitise the economy things will get more efficient and we will then charge people appropriately", he said.

The Finance Minister said ultimately, as the systems improved and more people were captured in the tax net, the rates will come down and Ghana could choose to abolish duties at the ports as is done in Singapore and other countries.

Ken Ofori-Atta spoke about corruption and indiscipline in the society and efforts by the government to curb these with the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, adding that corruption was not only akin to politicians but to non-politicians as well.

He said it was time Ghanaians had a national conversation on the issue of corruption, saying Ghanaians must also do away with forbearance and allow sanctions to work to transform the society.

He appealed to them to encourage their relations back home to be disciplined, do the right thing at all times and allow systems to work, just as is done in Japan.


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