Government has been urged to use the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to explore new avenues of raising domestic resources to offset the financing gap created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Eric Oduro Osae, a Public Financial Management and Local Government EXPERT, said in the short-term, the AfCFTA had the potential of mitigating the effects of Covid-19 pandemic by deepening intra-African trade and accelerating the post-pandemic economic recovery.
“Over the long-term, it will play an important role in building greater resilience and insulating the continent against future shocks,” Dr Osae said in his presentation at the maiden UPSA Global Alumni Symposium on the 2021 Budget and Economic Policy Statement of the Government in Accra.
The Symposium brought together Alumni and experts – both home and abroad, to discuss various aspects of the budget and to proffer alternative solutions to the multifaceted economic challenges that confront the nation.
This is the first international symposium to be held by the Global Alumni Association in collaboration with the Alumni Relations Office of the UPSA.
Dr Osae said due to the considerable uncertainties about how the Covid-19 crisis would evolve (despite the availability of the vaccine), Ghana must adopt medium to long-term fiscal policies towards economic and fiscal recovery through a restoration of public finances in a fair and sustainable manner to boost resources to reduce inequalities and promote development and to allow a greater degree of fiscal space to respond to future shocks.
“Since competitiveness is key under the AfCFTA, with the imposition of new taxes and levies, let us take steps to provide adequate support measures to make local businesses competitive,” he said.
Dr Osae, who is also the Director of the Internal Audit Agency of Ghana, urged the Government to avoid the imposition of taxes that builds up on each other as Citizens detested the practice and had. the potential of promoting evasion and slowing down demand.
He asked Government to take steps to minimize or prevent price hikes by not imposing new taxes and levies.
He suggested that the Government must rather put in adequate measures to ensure compliance with payment of taxes; saying that ordinarily, ensuring compliance comes before increasing taxes.
“However, with our current situation we have no option than to do both concurrently if we want to rake in more taxes as expected,” he said.
He said the authorities must ensure that the process of paying taxes was less cumbersome to improve collection and mobilization in addition to improving transparency and accountability in the utilization of tax revenue.
He recommended the application of the bottom-up revenue mobilization model by adopting complementary micro-level strategy to also support Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) grow their Internally Generated Fund (IGF).
He said there was the need to check the influx of foreigners and process abuse with the imposition of the gamming tax.
Dr Osae advocated for the printing, translation, and dissemination of the 2021 budget in more local languages (at least five local languages) and so same of local government laws and other policies into local languages for better appreciation by the population.
He urged the Finance Ministry to carry citizens along the budget implementation chain by collaborating with the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to conduct a series of nationwide Budget dissemination seminars to educate, raise awareness and sensitize citizens on their roles and expectations of the budget by the Ministry of Finance.
Dr Daniel Seddoh, a former Chief Executive Officer of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority, in his presentation, called for the rationalization of activities in the power sector to achieve efficiency; price to recover cost and making solar power affordable as households were encourages to use solar.
Mr Francis Dadzie, Coordinator of the UPSA Global Alumni Association, said: “The objective of the Symposium is to bring UPSA Alumni and experts together, to contribute effectively to the national discourse on the economy, and proffer alternative solutions and perspectives for the consideration of Government.”