21 June 2019

Ghana: 'Success of Ghana Beyond Aid Depends On Enhanced Revenue Mobilisation'

Government's 'Ghana Beyond Aid' development agenda will fail if domestic revenue mobilisation is not enhanced to meet growing expenditure, Professor Godfred Bokpin of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), has stated.

According to him, for the agenda to succeed, it was imperative that the country develops efficient means to mobilise enough revenues to finance growth and expand infrastructure.

Limited revenues, Prof. Bokpin explained, would compel the country to seek and depend on aid, which the agenda aims to overturn.

"Success of Ghana Beyond Aid depends largely on the country's ability to do more in terms of domestic revenue mobilisation and efficiency in public investment drive. If we cannot do this two, we should then forget about achieving the objectives of the agenda. Any country that is inefficient in mobilising revenues but yet want to grow and expand infrastructure will end up in debt," he stressed.

Prof. Bokpin was speaking at a lecture organised by policy think tank, Imani Ghana, in Accra, yesterday on the theme: 'Is Ghana's Debt Sustainability under Serious Threat, after International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme.'

Ghana's inability to enhance domestic revenue mobilisation, he said, could potentially impede compliance of the Fiscal Responsibility Act introduced to enhance fiscal discipline by governments.

"If we continue to live beyond our means, the agenda will only become a slogan to us. Fiscal responsibility requires that we generate enough revenue to fund our expenditure. The danger is, we might be forced to breach the fiscal responsibility act and spend more than we generate just to keep government activities going," Prof Bokpin stated.

Despite ongoing reforms being undertaken by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to enhance revenue mobilisation, he urged for professionalism rather than political influence in the determining of targets and strategies for revenue collection.

Prof. Bokpin said such professionalism enabled countries with similar economic structures like Ghana to improve domestic revenue generation.

He advised the government to resist the tendency to end the disturbing culture of excessive expenditure in election years, saying that such action could potentially lead to another subscription of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to save the economy from collapse.

Referencing to the 2019 report by the IMF, which cited Ghana as a high risk debt distress country, Prof. Bokpin said it was time to cut down on borrowing, which was mostly for liability management and not project financing.

"There is a compelling reason to take a look at tax exemptions, which derail our efforts to generate maximum revenue for development," he said.

Prof. Bokpin indicated that Ghana was at a crossroad regarding the 2020 General Election, "because we do not have sufficient physical space, so any election-related expenses beyond a certain level, may be the reason we go for our 17th IMF programme".

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