Like the sons of Issachar, understand the times we’re in – Ofori-Atta tells Ghanaians

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has shed light on the need for every Ghanaian to pay tax.

There is an ongoing contention over taxes as aggrieved Ghanaians complain bitterly about the introduction of an e-levy and petroleum product taxes.

Yesterday, some incensed commercial transport vehicle drivers staged a strike action, refusing to convey passengers in protest against fuel price increments and taxes on petroleum products.

Although the drivers have suspended the strike following a statement that the leaders of their Union have been invited to the Presidency, there is uncertainty on whether or not they will hit the streets again.

Also, the e-levy has attracted opposition with the Minority in Parliament and some Ghanaians fighting for either the removal of the levy or a reduction.

The levy, which will take effect in February next year, is purposed to compensate for the removal of road tolls and with the aim to provide infrastructure development in the country.

All Ghanaians are expected to pay a 1.75% e-levy on all electronic transactions but many citizens are already shedding tears as they believe this new tax will overburden them.

Speaking on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’, Ken Ofori-Atta appreciated the citizens’ concerns regarding the payment of taxes but maintained that taxation is the right way to go in transforming the economy.

“Taxes are disincentive to everybody. It isn’t anything strange. The question is how do you put in administrative measures to ensure that people do not migrate from it and that everybody pays their due. And we’re moving towards a cashless society, you find ways to make it expensive to be handling cash, so you change the society,” he argued.

He wondered how Ghanaians expect the nation to develop and will complain about paying taxes.

With emphasis on the e-levy, he disclosed that there is a huge tax inequity in Ghana showing a few people pay taxes, hence the need to resolve this issue.

“You know things are introduced. Things are managed and monitored. Things are adjusted; it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t start when we know that the world is moving towards a digital economy. So, we don’t have our heads in the sand to purport that we are doing something we haven’t thought about. What we want to do, especially with the employment and the debt situation [and] infrastructure, we are very convinced that that is the way to go . . . so, it’s just a new dawn; a new era and the plea understanding that we should all support it.”

He encouraged the citizens to embrace the idea of paying taxes saying, “like the sons of Issachar, we should understand the times that we are in and therefore agree on a way in which, as a nation, we move forward. So, that’s where we are at this junction”.

The Minister further promised that the government will ensure no person is left out of the tax net, saying ”societies have to change and that will be, as a government, our responsibility to implementing a way in which trying to evade, dodge, whatever is mitigated. So, society has to change and we will work with everyone”.